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Prime Minister David Cameron and President Hollande pay tribute ahead of Somme 100th anniversary commemorations

03 March 2016

UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande visited the CWGC Pozieres British Cemetery and Memorial in France today, to pay their respects to some of the 250,000 Commonwealth servicemen and women commemorated by the CWGC on the Somme.

The visit, ahead of this summer's Anglo-French commemorations of the Battle of the Somme at the CWGC Thiepval Memorial, was hosted by CWGC Director General, Mrs Victoria Wallace.

The two leaders were given a tour of the cemetery and laid wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice.

Among the graves visited was that to John and Robert Christy - two brothers from Manchester who both died on 17 January 1917 while serving with the 1st Battalion The King's (Liverpool) Regiment. John and Robert are buried in the same grave - Plot 2, Row G, Grave 3. They were aged just 21 and 25 respectively.

PM David Cameron & President Hollande

Writing in the Visitor Book, Francois Hollande said: "One hundred years on, it was my wish that the French Republic remembers and honours those dead from all the Commonwealth nations."

Remembering the Somme

To mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 2016, a national commemorative event will be held at 12:00 (11:00 GMT) at the CWGC Thiepval Memorial in Northern France. This will be led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, on behalf of the UK Government, and the French Mission du Centenaire de la Premiere Guerre mondiale, on behalf of the French Government, in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and The Royal British Legion.

In addition to the commemorative event taking place on 1 July at the Thiepval Memorial, there are also plans in place to mark the 141 day duration of the Battle of the Somme, offering further opportunities to participate and remember those whose lives were touched by the Battle.

For more information visit our dedicated Somme webpages.

CWGC Pozieres British Cemetery and Memorial, Somme, France

The village of Pozières and the surrounding farmland were fiercely contested during the Allied offensive on the Somme. Initially an objective for the first day, the ground was taken by Commonwealth forces three weeks later.

Pozières British Cemetery is the final resting place of nearly 2,800 Commonwealth soldiers, most of whom fell in 1916. In Plot II, to the right of the entrance, are the graves of those originally buried here by fighting units and field ambulances. This site was greatly expanded after the end of the war, when graves were brought here from several smaller burial grounds nearby. Nearly half of those buried here remain unidentified, but among them are more than 1,800 who served in regiments of the United Kingdom, more than 700 men of the Australian Imperial Force, and over 200 who fought with Canadian units.

Pozières was lost in March 1918 during the German Spring Offensive, and recaptured by the Allies in August. Around the cemetery stands the Pozières Memorial, which commemorates those who fought on the Somme in 1918. It bears the names of their fallen comrades who have no known grave, including more than 300 men of the forces of South Africa, and over 14,300 who served with British regiments, most of whom fell in March and April 1918. Both the cemetery and the memorial were designed by William Harrison Cowlishaw.

Find out more about the cemetery here.