President Hollande and David Cameron at Pozières British Cemetery and Memorial with Victoria Wallace, Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Photo: CWGC)

British & French leaders pay tribute on the Somme

Posted on on 08 March 2016
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UK Prime Minister David Cameron and President François Hollande of France have remembered the fallen of the Somme during a visit ahead of this year's joint centenary commemorations.

The two leaders toured Pozières British Cemetery and Memorial with Victoria Wallace, Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, laying wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice.

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

Troops from Britain, Australia, Canada and South Africa are commemorated by the CWGC at Pozières.

Among the graves visited by the British and French leaders was that of John and Robert Christy - two brothers from Manchester who're laid to rest together.

Both died in January 1917, aged 21 and 25 respectively, while serving with the 1st Battalion The King's (Liverpool) Regiment. 

David Cameron and President Hollande paid their tributes to the dead of the First World War before starting a day of Anglo-French summit talks in Amiens. 

In July 1916, Pozières and the surrounding farmland were fiercely contested at the start of the four-month Allied offensive on the Somme.

Nearly 2,800 Commonwealth soldiers - from the UK, Australia and Canada - are buried at Pozières British Cemetery. Most fell in 1916. A century later, almost half of them remain unidentified.

The Pozières Memorial enclosing the cemetery commemorates more than 14,300 troops - among them 300 South Africans - who have no known grave. They fell in the fighting of 1918 when the Somme again came under attack during the German Spring Offensive.

France and the UK will hold a joint commemorative event at the Thiepval Memorial, a short distance from Pozières, on July 1st 2016 to mark the centenary of Battle of the Somme. Tickets have already been allocated in an online ballot. But there a plans for a series of events from July-November remembering the 141 days of the battle. More information can be found on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website 

Also in Centenary News:

British royal family to attend Somme Centenary events in UK, France & Canada

Overnight vigils to mark 2016 Somme Centenary in UK

Information & images courtesy of CWGC

Posted by: CN Editorial Team