The Battle of the Somme was one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of World War I. It lasted more than four months as British and French troops attempted to stop the advance of the German army. By the end of the battle, the British army had suffered 420,000 casualties including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone.
On Friday 1 July 2016, the centenary of the day the battle started, the city is coming together to commemorate the sacrifice and bravery of those involved, with a service, parade and concert.
In the morning, a service of commemoration will take place at the St Peter’s Square cenotaph followed by a Somme 100 parade of military and home front groups who will march through the centre of the city. At 3pm there will also be a remembrance service in Manchester Cathedral which will be shown on the big screen in Exchange Square.
Many of the soldiers from Manchester who took part in the battle trained in Heaton Park and Heaton Hall was a military hospital. It’s fitting therefore that this is where a programme of events and activities will be taking place including heritage tram rides, a chance to meet Lancashire Hussars horses, and a field kitchen – just one of many demonstrations taking place. And keep an eye out for the Manchester Regiment, ready to put you through your paces! You can learn what life was like in 1916 at the Experience Field from 3.30pm to 7pm on Friday and until 4pm on Saturday.
Heaton Park is also host to an evening of free performances featuring the Halle Orchestra, a specially commissioned poem by acclaimed poet, Lemn Sissay, and a dance performance about the Pals battalions.
Start your evening by adding to The Path of The Remembered, an outdoor art installation made up of people’s memories from up and down the country. This will be followed by a choir of 270 children from across the UK singing World War I soldiers songs.
Tickets are required for the concert but are free of charge. For more information visit the website.