Commemorative event for schools to remember soldiers who fell at the Somme

More than 200 hundred school pupils from 14 schools will be taking part in a remembrance event at Southwater to commemorate local soldiers who were killed during the Battle of the Somme.

Commemorative event for schools to remember soldiers who fell at the Somme

The young people from schools across Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire will particularly be paying tribute to those members of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry who were lost.

The event will take place between 4-6pm on Thursday 14 July - exactly 100 years since the Battle of Bazentin Ridge. 

This day was the worst single day, in terms of military losses, in the regiment’s history.  The event has been jointly organised by Historic England and Telford & Wrekin Council. 

The event will be a local element of the national commemorations of the Battle of the Somme will highlight both the special military significance of the 14 July to Shropshire and the impact the battle had on communities across the county.  It will demonstrate that the tradition of remembrance is safe in the hands of young people across Shropshire.

The idea for the event came from teachers who had attended a day’s training course on the Battle of the Somme, delivered to schools by Martin Phillips of Historic England.

The teachers involved wanted to participate in a co-ordinated event and Justine Ranson of the council's Telford Culture Zone has led the logistical organisation of the commemoration.

Martin Phillips says ‘This commemoration has been organised because the teachers and pupils have a huge interest in the soldiers of the First World War, who lived near their schools and lost their lives on the Somme.

"There is a passionate enthusiasm for remembering these men creatively, publicly and formally.  The project has given me great confidence that the future of Remembrance, in Shropshire, is safe in the hands of our young people."

Having been provided with support, guidance with names and some details and photos of soldiers who lived locally to the schools by HE, teachers are leading research about these soldiers, several of whom lived no more than a few hundred yards from the school studying them.  

Having undergone training delivered by a freelance textiles artist, Katy Whitehouse, the teachers are helping pupils to decorate about 50 hessian banners, each representing an individual local soldier who died on the Somme – in most cases on the 14th July 1916. 

The event will start at the Library at Southwater 1 at 4pm on July 14.  The pupils will march in formation, parading their banners, around the Lake to the Arena space in the Town Park.  

There will then be a formal ceremony, with music from the Langley and Old Park school bands, an address from Lt Col Andrew Trelawny, of the Rifles, poetry reading, laying of wreaths, the Last Post and 2 minutes’ silence.

Invitations for the event will be sent to locally elected representatives, council officials, Brigade HQs at Donnington and Copthorne and local veterans associations. 

The event has been organised with input from the Telford and Wrekin Music Service, the Telford & Wrekin Creative Development Team, the Telford & Wrekin Co-operative Community Participation Team and the support of Telford Libraries and the King's Shropshire Light infantry Regimental Museum. It is also anticipated that the event will be supported by the Rifles Association and joined by local branch members of the Royal British Legion.