Melton to mark centenary of the Battle of the Somme with parade and drumhead church service

This picture taken in 1916 shows soldiers from Melton based at the Remount (now the Defence Animal Centre) going to the western front and the Somme. The picture was taken on Thorpe Road, just before the entrance to the hospital EMN-160615-175753001
This picture taken in 1916 shows soldiers from Melton based at the Remount (now the Defence Animal Centre) going to the western front and the Somme. The picture was taken on Thorpe Road, just before the entrance to the hospital EMN-160615-175753001
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The 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme is to be marked in Melton with a parade and drumhead church service.

Fighting at the Battle of the Somme began on July 1, 1916 and lasted four-and-a-half months. In total, 60 nations from across the British Empire and Europe were involved in the fighting across a 25-kilometre front. When the offensive finally came to a halt on November 18, 1916, the Battle of the Somme had claimed a million casualties; 430,000 from Commonwealth countries, with a third of this number killed. A number of these were from Melton and the borough.

To mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme the Melton branch of the Royal British Legion, with Melton Council, have organised a parade followed by a drumhead service in St Mary’s Church on Sunday, July 3.

Led by Melton Band, the parade will march off from Park Road at 10.45am, down Nottingham Street towards the church. Serving service personnel along with veterans, youth organisations and other local groups will take part. Representatives are set to include the Defence Animal Centre, Royal British Legion, Royal Air Force Association, Army and Air Cadets, Scouts and police and fire services.

Following the parade, Rev Kevin Ashby has arranged a special drumhead church service at 11am to reflect on the 100th anniversary. Drumhead ceremonies were used during times of conflict as a point of worship when no real altar could be used. Drums are piled up and draped with standards or colours to form a ceremonial altar.

Event organiser for the Melton RBL Mark Whitehead said: “We’re expecting about 150 people on the parade. We hope people will come along to support the parade and all are welcome to the service.”