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

roseland-peninsula.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

Comments

More

Witches are casting a spell on Donald Trump at midnight tonight

It’s set to be “the largest mass binding spell in history”.

by Moya Crockett
24 Feb 2017

This new yoga class is all about the healing power of gin

Empty your mind… and your glass

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Best friends build community of tiny houses so they can live together

Welcome to bestie row…

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Behold Ikea's incredible flat-pack indoor garden

Bring the outdoors in

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Feb 2017

Successful women “give up” on the idea of work-life balance, says CEO

Grace Bonney, founder of DesignSponge, says that the idea of a work-life balance is “not rooted in reality”.

by Moya Crockett
24 Feb 2017

Woman becomes internet sensation for documenting life as a third wheel

"Love makes the world go round. Unless you're me."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Feb 2017

First Dates is offering us all free food to sit in the background

Couples and singles can both apply

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

The Netflix gems to binge-watch based on your favourite TV shows

These are the unmissable Netflix TV shows you need to know about...

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Inside Nepal’s forced marriage revolt

When love and tradition collide

by Corinne Redfern
23 Feb 2017

Demi Lovato on her mental health documentary: “I’m bipolar and proud”

The singer opened up about her new mental illness documentary to Ellen DeGeneres.

by Moya Crockett
23 Feb 2017