A small crowd including the Deputy Mayor, Chairman, RBL Bedford and District Branch and President, RBL Bedford and District Branch gathered at the War Memorial on the Embankment at 7.30am this morning.
The coming together was to commemorate the Centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, and all age groups were represented.
Mr Chris Wagstaff, Chairman of the Branch introduced proceedings detailing the length of the Battle and the casualties during the campaign. A two minute silence followed.
Mr Mike Simpson, a long-standing member of the RBL, blew a whistle, as at other Memorials, to represent what happened exactly 100 years ago to begin the campaign that gained about five miles but cost nearly half a million British and Commonwealth Troops, more than 57,000 on the first day alone.
The whistle Mike used was used at the Battle of the Somme. In Gran Canaria, Mr George Hadley, also a member of the RBL gave three blasts at the War Memorial on the island using the whistle his grandfather used at the Somme.
Mr Bob Colman, President of the Branch laid a wreath in memory of the Fallen and ended the proceedings with verses from Laurence Binyon’s ‘For the Fallen’.