New annual commemoration to mark the heroics of city’s Somme soldiers

A ceremony held at the war memorial in Guildhall Square in memory of The Pompey Pals regiment

A ceremony held at the war memorial in Guildhall Square in memory of The Pompey Pals regiment

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THEY gave everything to protect the nation. And now the heroics of the city’s men killed in the Battle of the Somme will be immortalised.

The hundreds of soldiers killed in the 141-day fight are set to have their own annual memorial ceremony in Portsmouth each September.

The commemoration will be in addition to the national Remembrance Sunday events, held in November.

It comes after a memorial service was held marking the 100-year anniversary of the death of the city’s soldiers killed in the Somme.

The event was staged by the Pompey Pals project and was more successful than any of the voluntary team could have hoped for.

Bob Beech, of the Pompey Pals, was determined to make the commemoration ‘bigger and better’ next year and said he was committed to making it an annual spectacle.

He said: ‘What we did on September 10 was going to be a one-off.

‘It was something that we wanted to do to mark the centenary of the Somme and of our lads.

‘But talking to some of the people who turned up to it – the standard-bearers, the families – they said there’s nothing like this in the UK.

‘There was so much support for it in the city, we’ve decided we should make this an annual event.

‘The men from the Somme deserve to be remembered for everything they sacrificed.’

The Pompey Pals aim to include larger covered spaces in Guildhall Square, featuring more interactive displays.

It will take place sometime between September 3 and 15 – the anniversary of the city’s two Portsmouth Pals battalions going over the top in the battle.

More than 750 men were killed or wounded.

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