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100 years on

Published: 1 Jul 2016 00:01

Scotland remembers the First World War’s bloodiest battle.

The Battle of the Somme will be commemorated with an overnight vigil tonight in the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle and further remembrance events in Contalmaison, in the area where the battle took place.

The battle was the most devastating encounter of the First World War and saw more than a million men wounded or killed, 420,000 of them from the British Army.

Losses on the first day were the worst in the history of the British Army, with 57,470 casualties of whom 19,240 died. That huge scale of loss was matched by that among other armies which took part in the battle.

The First Minister, who will be attending the remembrance event at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in France, said:

"It is now exactly one hundred years since the start of the Battle of the Somme – the opening day of which has gone down in history as one of the bloodiest in the history of armed conflict.

"Fifty-one Scottish battalions were involved, and the losses suffered by those units – and those from the other countries involved – were on an almost unimaginable scale.

"Barely a single community in Scotland was left untouched by the battle. Across Scotland communities are now remembering those who gave their lives, and a whole century on from the devastation and suffering of the Battle of the Somme, we should all reflect on the horrors of the Great War and give thanks that our continent now lives in peace."

Commemorating the first day of the Battle of the Somme in Contalmaison, where the 15th and 16th Battalions of the Royal Scots fought, Veterans Secretary Keith Brown said:

"The courage and sacrifice of those who fought in the Battle of the Somme should never be forgotten. The McCrae's Battalion Trust is to be congratulated for its commitment to and dedication in honouring those of the Edinburgh 15th and 16th Battalions of the Royal Scots who fell in the battle. Today we reflect on and remember the supreme sacrifice of McCrae's Battalion and the others who lost their lives at the Somme."

Notes to editors

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop will attend the Scottish national vigil, organised in partnership with WW100 Scotland, Royal British Legion Scotland (Legion Scotland), the Scottish National War Memorial, the Ministry of Defence, Historic Environment Scotland and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It is one of four national commemorative events taking place across the four nations of the UK.

The Battle of the Somme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNffuRfP6dk&feature=youtu.be