The first day of the Battle of the Somme, in northern France, was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army and one of the most infamous days of World War One. On 1 July 1916, the British forces suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 fatalities. They gained just three square miles of territory.
Today in St Chrysostom’s Church, on the centenary of the battle’s first day, young and old gathered to remember and to pledge to work for peace. St John’s schoolchildren presented a moving soundscape to set the scene. The singing and the solemn drumming, together with images helped us to reflect together. In word and image St Chrysostom’s schoolchildren described the scene, and said prayers. The children, of course, come from a wide variety of cultures, backgrounds and faiths. Their contributions and attentiveness were exemplary.
Together we all kept silence for two minutes.
Six crosses have been placed at the war memorial in the Anson chapel. One for each of the men of our area who died on 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle. They are:
Arthur Frederick Hammond, aged 31yrs, Manchester Regiment.
Ralph Nesbit Lodge, aged 22yrs, Lancashire Fusiliers.
Albert Meller, aged 19 yrs, Lancashire Fusiliers.
Leonard Norton, aged 28yrs, Manchester Regiment.
Thomas Edgar Stevenson, aged 26yrs, Manchester Regiment.
and Harold Bown Warhurst, aged 20yrs, Royal Scots.
A prayer for peace used at Church today:
O God, who would fold both heaven and earth in a single peace:
Let the design of thy great love
lighten upon the waste of our wraths and sorrows:
and give peace to thy Church,
peace among nations,
peace in our dwellings,
and peace in our hearts:
through thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.