French pay tribute to hero British soldiers who died at Battle of the Somme

French villagers paid a poignant tribute today to the 20,000 British soldiers who died in the first hours of the Battle of the Somme.

They were adamant it must go ahead, despite the coronavirus crisis, 104 years after the men died on the British Army’s bloodiest ever day.

Because of social distancing, only a few could honour those who gave their lives on July 1, 1916, as the First World War raged.

At 7.28am, the moment battle began, a French bagpiper walked around the huge Lochnagar crater in pouring rain playing “The Battle of the Somme”.



As he finished, those present, including children, symbolically blew whistles, the signal for soldiers to “go over the top” and advance on the German lines, only to be mown down.

It is the first time in 45 years the crater’s owner Richard Dunning could not attend the annual event in Northern France.



French pay tribute to hero British soldiers who died at Battle of the Somme

Top news stories from Mirror Online

He was stranded in the UK by coronavirus travel restrictions.

Local resident Brit Julie Thomson said: “We came here to pay tribute to ordinary men who did extraordinary things.

“The support of Christian Bernard [mayor of the village of Ovillers-la-Boisselle] and the local community has been incredible. They help maintain the crater, offer support in a quiet, respectful way.”

War historian Peter Jones said: “The fact people of the Somme are determined to pay their respects in these difficult times is hugely impressive.”

.

Menu