The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme (Photo: Centenary News)

Somme Centenary ticket ballot opens

Posted on on 28 September 2015
Share |

An online ballot opens today (September 28th 2015) for tickets to attend next year's Thiepval commemorations marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Eight thousand tickets are being made available to the public for the event at the Thiepval Memorial on July 1st 2016.

The ballot, open to residents of the UK and Ireland, will run until November 18th 2015. 

Tickets will be free of charge and allocated in pairs. Enter the ballot here.  

France says 'no effort will be spared to welcome the families and descendants of those valiant soldiers of the Somme.'

Next year's commemorations in France also include: 

*A vigil at Thiepval on the eve of the Centenary, June 30th 2016.

*A small event at Thiepval each day from July 2nd to  November 18th marking the 141 days of the Battle of the Somme.

*Commemorations on November 18th 2016 remembering the end of the battle.

The Thiepval Memorial, with the Commonwealth & French military cemeteries in the foreground (Photo: Centenary News)

Details of commemorative events in the UK in 2016 will be announced in the coming months.

The British Government says it's important that everyone has an opportunity to commemorate and take part in a centenary that 'holds a particular resonance for many people in the UK'.

Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement:

"The First World War, with that mixture of horror and courage, suffering and hope, has become a fundamental part of our national consciousness. Perhaps nothing brings home the sheer scale of the sacrifice and loss more starkly than the Somme, a battle where 20,000 were killed in a single day.

"Next summer thousands will gather to mark the centenary of the battle at the memorial at the village of Thiepval in France.

"I hope many people will take the opportunity to travel to the Somme itself to remember those who fought but for those who wish to pay their respects here in Britain, there will also be events up and down the country commemorating this historic anniversary."

'Moral obligation'

The French Secretary of State for Veterans and Remembrance, Jean-Marc Todeschini, said: "A century ago, France and the UK fought side by side in the Battle of the Somme. In spite of the considerable means deployed at the time and the courage of the soldiers who fought there, the offensive resulted in nothing but a cruel and tragic disappointment.

"Now, a century later, France and Great Britain have a moral obligation to pay tribute to the millions of men who risked their lives on the Somme all those years ago.

"Everything will be done to make this joint ceremony in Thiepval on 1st July 2016 a memorable occasion for the French and British people.

"No effort will be spared in France to welcome the families and descendants of those valiant soldiers of the Somme. On 1st July 2016, France and the United Kingdom have an appointment with their history."

 The former battlefields of the Somme near Serre (Photo: Centenary News)

Commemorations are held every year at Thiepval, on the anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, to remember all those who fell during the 1916 British offensive.

But the centenary event, led jointly by the UK Government and France's Mission Centenaire, will be on a larger scale and is expected to attract strong public interest.

It's being organised in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which cares for the Thiepval Memorial, and the Royal British Legion.

Plans are being made to broadcast the ceremony live on big screens in towns across the Somme region and the UK.

More than 72,000 British and South African troops who have no known grave are remembered on the multiple arches of the Thiepval Memorial; the majority of them fell in the fighting of July-November 1916.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Joe French, Vice-Chairman of the CWGC said: "Sir Edwin Lutyens’ monument is the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world. It is also an enduring reminder of the alliance between the British and French armies during the First World War. It is uniquely fitting place at which to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme."

The French Government is leading the distribution of its ticket allocation. More information about the Somme Centenary can be found on the official Somme 2016 website.

Source: UK Government

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News