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CWGC and the Royal British Legion work together on Somme 141

20 November 2015

Working with the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport to deliver a series of events commemorating the fallen from the first to the last day of the Battle of the Somme.

To mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme next year, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and The Royal British Legion are working together to deliver 141 days of events to remember those who served and died during the battle.

Fought between July and November 1916, the Battle of the Somme was one of the defining events of the First World War. The losses sustained by the Allied forces touched communities in virtually every corner of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.

The joint programme will include two parts:

141 Days - Thiepval Memorial is a daily event taking place at the CWGC's Thiepval Memorial and will be organised by the Legion. The daily Remembrance ceremonies, which take place at 12pm CET (11am GMT) from 2 July to 17 November 2016, will be similar to those held at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Organisations, associations and individuals may ask to participate.

141 Days - The Front will encourage and support organisations and associations in holding commemorative events at cemeteries or at regimental memorials across the Somme battlefield and will be supported by CWGC.

In addition to the above, both organisations are launching dedicated Somme 100 (100th anniversary) content on their websites. Featuring videos, a history of the Somme campaign and events listings.

The CWGCs Director of External Relations, Mr Colin Kerr, explained: "Mention the Battle of the Somme and many people think only of 1 July 1916 - when some 57,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers became casualties and more than 19,000 were killed. But the Somme Offensive lasted for twelve 'battles', across a total of 141 days from 1 July to 18 November.

"Some 420,000 British Empire servicemen were wounded or killed during the offensive, with those who died commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the Somme region. We want the public, groups and associations to visit their graves and memorials and remember them - not just on 1 July but throughout the 141 days."

National President of The Royal British Legion, Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson CB CVO, said: "As the national custodian of Remembrance, The Royal British Legion is honoured to play a key role in the events commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. It is of huge importance that we continue to recognise the sacrifices made by the hundreds of thousands who fell during the 141 days of the Battle, and that we make our commemorations relevant and accessible to all generations. The Legion and Commonwealth War Graves Commission will be hosting daily Remembrance ceremonies at Thiepval and we will ensure the memory of those who lost their lives one hundred years ago lives on."

The CWGC is working with the Legion and UK government to highlight the sacrifice of those who served and honour those who lost their lives, with a range of events and acts of commemoration focused on the CWGCs cemeteries and memorials across the Somme battlefield.

For more information, please contact Samantha Daynes on +44(0)1628 507102 or sam.daynes@cwgc.org.

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Notes to Editors

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org)

The CWGC maintains the graves of the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars. It also holds and updates an extensive and accessible records archive. The CWGC operates in over 23,000 locations in 154 countries across all continents except for Antarctica.

First World War losses on the Somme- Some 150,000 Commonwealth servicemen lie buried in 250 military and 150 civilian cemeteries. Six memorials to the missing commemorate by name more than 100,000 whose graves are not known.

The Thiepval Memorial

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, on the battlefields of the Somme, has hosted services of Remembrance each peace-time year since it was built in 1932.

The Thiepval Memorial is the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world and bears the names of more than 72,000 men who died on the Somme and have no known grave. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, it is also commemorates the alliance between the British Empire and France. Beside the memorial is a cemetery with equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves, brought together from all over the battlefield.

The Royal British Legion (www.britishlegion.org.uk)

)The Royal British Legion's work is encapsulated in its motto: Live On - to the memory of the fallen and the future of the living. The Legion is the nation's biggest Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It is the national custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is well known for the annual Poppy Appeal, and its emblem the red poppy.