Memorial holds 70,000 names

The Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, France.
The Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, France.
Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

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On this, our fourth visit to the First World War battlefields, we are on the Somme where on high ground a short distance from Beaumont-Hamel there stands the magnificent Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. It is pronounce Tee-ep-val.

Recorded on 16 panels with four faces are inscribed 72,195 names of British and South African soldiers who have no known grave. They were all missing presumed killed between 1915 and 1918.

This wonderful memorial was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and built between 1928 and 1932. It has suffered greatly from erosion over the years and this year between March and June, 24 of the panels have been refurbished.

Since its construction, 130 of the named men have been ‘found’, but it was thought undignified to remove the names so they remain among the missing.

No matter what your surname is I think you will find it on one of the panels, so vast is the list.

A memorial service is held there every July 1 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme – as well as on November 11.