Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

WW1 soldiers appear across the UK in emotional tribute to men killed in the Somme

wearehere1.PNG

Today marks 100 years since the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest day of the First World War – and in British military history.

And this morning, commuters across the UK came face-to-face with the human faces behind the history.

In a ‘living memorial’ to the British soldiers killed in the Somme, young men dressed in WW1 uniforms appeared at stations and in city centres all over the country.

In towns and cities including Leicester, Manchester, Oldham, Birmingham, London, Chester, Belfast, Barnsley and Southampton, the men handed out cards to passers-by. Each one carried the name of one of the 19,240 British soldiers who died on the first day of the battle. 

Some of the men sang We’re Here Because We’re Here, a song that was sung in the trenches to the tune of Auld Lang Syne

“It’s an incredible display – that fact that they are silent, they are looking at you,” history teacher Alex Parker, who witnessed the men at Waterloo Station in London, told The Guardian. “They are not talking to each other, or to you. It’s eerie. It’s strange and disconcerting. I think it’s a good way of bringing it home to people.” 

The memorial drew an emotional response on social media:

The 141-day Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916, preceded by an artillery barrage so loud that a rumble could be heard 50 miles across the Channel in England. On the very first day of battle, one man was killed in action on average every 4.4 seconds; 37 sets of brothers lost their lives. 

Some of the worst hit during the battle were members of the ‘pals’ battalions’, volunteer units with little or no fighting experience.  The youngest person to fight in the Somme is believed to have been Sidney Lewis, who was just 13.

By the time the battle ended on 18 November 1916, it had claimed the lives of 420,000 British soldiers.

A collection of all the images posted on social media of today's #WeAreHere memorials can be viewed here.

Top image: Gemma Swallow/Twitter

Related

iStock_88857251_XLARGE.jpg

Twitter users send messages of solidarity to Europeans in the UK

neilhoward_clonque_bay4.jpg

British bucket list: places to see and things to do before you die

GettyImages-530025852.jpg

Londoners react to the #Brexit result

jo cox.jpg

We remember Jo Cox MP, with tributes - and in her own words

rexfeatures_1770179a.jpg

WWII bomb shelter could be set to host new London restaurant

nick alexander bataclan.jpg

Woman tells how “love of her life” died in her arms in Paris attack

London.jpg

Five books set in the capital that every Londoner should read

engagement ring 1.JPG

Watch how engagement ring designs have changed in the last 100 years

queen elizabeth.jpg

Fit for a queen: the timeless power dressing of Elizabeth II

More

20 soothing, beautiful songs guaranteed to help you fall asleep

An expert picks the ultimate classical music playlist

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Oct 2017

Puppy dog eyes are a thing and your dog makes them just for you

A study says dogs change their facial expressions when humans are looking

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2017

Here’s how to buy a house or a flat for the princely sum of £1

It's time to enter the real-estate raffle

by Megan Murray
20 Oct 2017

Oxford University under fire for shocking lack of racial diversity

One MP called the revelations an example of “social apartheid”

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2017

This prosecco festival is the best way to start feeling Christmassy

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Missing your 16-25 railcard? We have good news for you

Rail bosses have taken pity on cash-strapped millennials

20 Oct 2017

This man’s response to his friend’s period while hiking is everything

“I had NOTHING on me and I was wearing shorts”

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Why anxiety makes it harder to follow your intuition

It can have a paralysing effect on decision-making

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

“Why all men must work to stamp out sexual harassment and abuse”

In wake of the Weinstein allegations, one writer argues why men need to be counted

19 Oct 2017

Rage, lust, power and warmth: how it feels to experience ‘red emotions

“I grew up being told my body was terrifying and my voice was unimportant”

by The Stylist web team
19 Oct 2017