From the Rev Bobby Liddle.
The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest battles of World War I. It lasted from 1st July to 18th November 1916 on the banks of the Somme River, in France.
An estimated 1,000,000 men were killed or wounded, including about 485,000 British and French troops. Almost 60,000 British soldiers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner on the first day of fighting.
During the first day of the battle the 36th (Ulster) Division advanced about one mile but later had to retreat. At the end of the day on 1st July the 36th (Ulster) Division had suffered over 4,900 casualties:
- 79 officers and 1,777 other ranks killed
- 102 officers and 2,626 other ranks wounded
- 7 officers and 206 other ranks missing
- 1 officer and 164 other ranks taken prisoner.
The Battle of the Somme was fought at such cost that it has come to symbolise the tragic futility of the First World War. The first day of the conflict remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.
This Somme Centenary provides an opportunity to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the battle, to reflect upon the human cost of conflict and to have prayerful hope for a more peaceful world.
It is with gratitude that we recall the words of Psalm 46 and with hope that we pray them for areas of conflict in our world today.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the shields with fire.
May we be peacemakers who sow in peace and pray for peace.
In His name,