100 years since the Somme

  • 22
  • Feb

This year marks 100 years since the battle of the Somme – one of the bloodiest of World War One. This battle in northern France raged for five months and left over one million soldiers dead and wounded.

More than 750 soldiers from Islington were killed in the battle. Soldiers like Sgt Hugh Victor Hember (pictured below) who went missing in action on the first and bloodiest day. His family desperately tried to find the missing soldier who was thought to have been killed along with hundreds of other men that day.


Islington Council and Islington Veterans Association are holding a special centenary event on Friday 18 November to commemorate all those who died in the Somme. The event, held at Manor Gardens, will include a service and plaque unveiling at 10.30am, followed by refreshments and a short presentation by descendants of Sgt Hember. All are welcome.

Life in the trenches

This view shows the frontline trenches between Herbuterne and Bienvillers. The trenches were the most dangerous place and life in them was squalid and freezing cold. The winter of 1916-1917 in France was the coldest in living memory and the trenches flooded – sometimes to waist height – when it rained. The soldiers suffered from exposure, frostbite, trench foot and many diseases brought on or made worse by such awful living conditions.

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

This memorial in northern Francebears the names of 72,194 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces, who have no known grave. Over 90 per cent of the men died between July and November 1916.

Tank warfare

The development of tanks was a response to the stalemate of trench warfare. The first tanks, known as Mark 1, were built in two types which were essentially the same except for their armament. The ‘Male’ type carried two Hotchkiss 6-pounder (57mm) guns and 4 machine guns; the ‘Female’ 5 machine guns. Below is the an image of the remains of a Mark 1 Male Tank of ‘D’ Company.

How you can find out more

Over 9,000 people with Islington connections lost their lives in the First World War. Residents can search the streets where they lived with this interactive mapping project: The Streets They Left Behind

Search the Islington online Book of Remembrance

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