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Somme centenary: Poignant Elm Park Somme service leaves mayor ‘fighting back tears’

PUBLISHED: 14:12 04 July 2016 | UPDATED: 16:24 04 July 2016

Mayor Cllr Philippa Crowder and her consort Cllr John Crowder at St Nicholas Church's Battle of the Somme centenary commemoration. Picture: Melissa Page

Mayor Cllr Philippa Crowder and her consort Cllr John Crowder at St Nicholas Church's Battle of the Somme centenary commemoration. Picture: Melissa Page

Archant

The community came together on Sunday to pay their respects to the fallen heroes who died in the First World War’s bloodiest battle.

Led by St Nicholas Church, Woodcote Avenue, Elm Park, and the Royal British Legion, a Holy Communion service, took place from 9.30am.

Mayor of Havering, Cllr Philippa Crowder said the event was “very emotional”.

“The vicar conducted that service excellently,” she said. “He blew a whistle and made a poignant point.

“It would have been the last sound they [the soldiers] heard before they died.

“I was fighting back tears.”

She added that Fr Tom Keighley and his wife Rev Amanda Keighley, provided the congregation with a “history lesson”.

“It hit home,” she continued. “They made it a reality.”

Fr Keighley, added that around 150 elderly and young people attended the event.

“These things are rather sad,” he said. “But it needs remembering how dreadful this war had been.

“Prayers led by the Brownies, were very moving, they were about the need for peace.”

Gallant Jack Cornwell, 16, who died in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, was also remembered as members of his family worship at the church.

The service was one of hundreds around the country which marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916.

The opening day of the offensive was one of the darkest days in the history of the British Army, with 19,240 soldiers killed.

For five and a half months did the battle rage on, ending on November 1918.

In total, 419,654 British soldiers were either killed, wounded or went missing.

Buy the Recorder for a free 24-page supplement on the Battle of the Somme centenary, which features the stories of some of those who perished.

The Recorder has published a free 24-page supplement to commemorate the anniversary, featuring the tales of some of those who fought and details of the nationwide events that took place. Get your copy out now.


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