People in my Wansbeck constituency have been marking the 100th anniversary of what has been described as the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.
One hundred years ago, on July 1, 1916, British and Allied troops left the comparative safety of their front line trenches in Northern France to embark on the Battle of the Somme that would last for an agonising five months.
In all, more than a million casualties were recorded on both sides, with almost unbelievably nearly 60,000 British Allied troops being either killed or injured on the very first day of the battle alone. Many were very young men whose bodies were never found.
Across the country, and in places like the Thiepval Memorial and the Lochnagar Crater, services have been held to remember those who fought, and often died, in service of their country.
Our own area suffered heavy casualties and it is right and proper that those who made the ultimate sacrifice have been remembered in services at the Ashington War Memorial and St Cuthbert’s Church in Bedlington.
The debt we owe those who gave their lives – not just at the Battle of the Somme, but in conflicts around the world – can never be repaid.
The most we can do is remember their bravery and sacrifices, and vow to always honour their memories.