Abbey publishes Orders of Service for Somme centenary

BBC Television will broadcast live from Westminster Abbey over the next two days as the nation marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in World War One.

A Service and Vigil on the Eve of the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme will be broadcast live on BBC2 at 7.30 pm tonight, Thursday 30th June, and BBC1 will screen elements a Vigil and Requiem to Commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme from 7.00 am tomorrow Friday 1st July.

The Orders of Service for both are published today for viewers.

On 1st July 1916, the British and French armies launched an offensive near the River Somme, in Picardy, France. This series of battles, lasting nearly five months, would become one of the bloodiest and most important campaigns of the First World War.

In the early hours soldiers moved into forward trenches and advanced into no-man's land, preparing for 'zero-hour' at 7.30 am. As the bombardment lifted, the first wave of Allied troops attacked along a 40 kilometre front. In the south, the French made good progress and British units took Mametz and Montauban, but in the north — at Gommecourt, Serre, Beaumont-Hamel, Thiepval, Ovillers, and La Boisselle — the British Army suffered terrible losses for little gain.

On that first day 19,240 British soldiers were killed, the French had 1,590 casualties and the German 2nd Army lost between 10,000 and 12,000 men.

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