It is truly terrifying to imagine the destruction wrought across this landscape one hundred years ago today. However, we now return to the battlefield in a spirit of reconciliation and respect.

From the numerous hallowed spots across the battlefield, to the war poetry, poignant tales of comradeship between men, and the infamous Somme mud, the Battle of the Somme is an important part of our shared history.  For many in Britain, the Battle holds a special place in the public consciousness.

We honour the men who served from across Britain and Ireland, the Commonwealth and from France.  We remember, too, the men from Germany who fought and fell in this most futile of conflicts... Their perseverance and courage when faced with such a monumental challenge are truly humbling. 

The Battle of the Somme was unlike any battle that had preceded it.  The sheer scale of the operation required a mobilisation like no other.  The invaluable contribution of medical staff and volunteers, the critical provision of artillery from factories at home, and the construction of a vast infrastructure along the front will all be recognised as part of this important commemoration.  

The Battle also saw the development of new technologies that would later become an integral part of modern warfare.  The first tanks were deployed on the Somme, while aircraft fought above the battlefield for air supremacy and to provide photographic reconnaissance. 

This centenary provides us with an opportunity to show our deepest respect to our ancestors. Their sacrifice and suffering will never be forgotten.