The Somme remembered on a London tube train (Photo courtesy of 14-18 NOW)

'We are here' - Centenary live tribute to soldiers of the Somme

Posted on centenarynews.com on 03 July 2016
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Volunteers dressed as First World War soldiers made unannounced appearances across the UK on July 1st, for a centenary project bringing home the scale of Britain's losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Armies of men emerged in city streets, shopping centres, railway stations and at many other locations, capturing public attention. Sightings of the khaki-clad volunteers, from southern England to the Shetland Islands, trended on Twitter.  

Passers-by were given cards remembering individual soldiers who fell on July 1st 1916.

The 1,400 volunteers were aged 16-52, reflecting the men who would have fought on the Somme.

Every so often, they broke into 'We're here because we're here', the British soldiers' song that gave the commemorative project  its name.

The venture was commissioned as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK's cultural programme marking the First World War Centenary.

It was conceived and created by Jeremy Deller, the Turner Prize-winning artist who was also involved in the 2014 Lights Out project, in collaboration with Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre.

The volunteers, who weren't trained actors, rehearsed at UK theatres in the month leading up to their appearances over a 12-hour period.

14-18 NOW Director Jenny Waldman said: "Taking part in 'we're here because we're here' has given hundreds of young people across the UK the chance to find out more about the Somme, and in some cases discover the stories of family members who fought in the war."

The Battle of the Somme, fought from July-November 1916,  resulted in more than a million Allied and German casualties (dead, wounded and missing).

July 1st 1916 is remembered as the worst day in British military history - 19,240 soldiers were killed, 35,493 wounded and 2,737 were missing or taken prisoner.

Information & images from 14-18 NOW

Photos & comments can also be found on Twitter #wearehere

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