Britain commemorates Battle of the Somme

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One hundred years ago today was the bloodiest-ever day in British military history and Britons have paid a silent tribute this morning to the thousands of soldiers killed in the Battle of the Somme.

Emotional ceremonies have been held across the United Kingdom and senior members of the royal family attended a memorial service organised in honour of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the brutal offensive that happened a century ago.

Veterans, servicemen and simple people have come together to remember the moment when, on July 1, 1916, thousands of British, Commonwealth and French forces left their trenches  and went “over the top,” attempting to cross “no man’s land.”

The British Army suffered almost 60,000 casualties on the first day of the battle alone, and over the course of the 141-day offensive, about a million people were killed or wounded on both sides.

This morning’s two minutes of silence came after a night-long vigil at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, led by the Queen herself, and at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were present.

Prayers were said for those who lost their lives in the First World War and hymns were sung by the vigil attendants.

The occasion was also marked with the sound of gunfire, as the Royal Horse Artillery released a 100-second gun salute in remembrance for the fallen on all sides.