Somme to be remembered at ceremony

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A 100th Anniversary Somme Commemoration Parade and Church Service to honour all those who gave their lives during the Somme Campaign on the Western Front will take place in Strabane at the start of next month.

It is being jointly planned and hosted by the members of both the men’s and women’s sections of the Strabane Branch of the Royal British Legion.

The Battle of the Somme took place between July 1 and November 18, 1916, on both sides of upper reaches of the River Somme in France. It was the largest battle of World War I on the Western Front and over a million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

To mark this sacrifice, Strabane RBL will hold a special parade and church service on Sunday, June 5, to commemorate the anniversary.

The parade will assemble at Strabane Christ Church, Church of Ireland, at Bowling Green at 2pm.

A parade inspection will be carried out by the Duke of Abercorn, who is the Branch President, at 2:15pm, after which the parade will move off along Patrick Street, making its way to Strabane Presbyterian Church for a Drumhead service. A traditional salute, as a mark of respect for The Fallen, will be given when passing the War Memorial. The church service, which will include a Drumhead Service, will start at 3pm and will be led by the Royal Irish Regiment Silver Band and the Strabane Academy School Choir.

Rev Mark Lennox, Branch Chaplin, and Rev Mark Shaw, Strabane Presbyterian Minister, will jointly conduct the religious service.

Invited guests will also be taking part in the parade and the church service.

The parade will be led by Cowan Memorial Flute Band, from Sion Mills.

Marshals and members of the police will be on duty during this event.

As unique and poignant occasion in history, the organisers have appealed to the public from all sections of the community to take part and show their support.

In addition to the official acts of reflection and service, a display of WWI and Somme memorabilia will be put on public display.