Lest we forget: Portsmouth remembers lives lost in Battle of Somme with commemoration

WE will remember them.

Saturday, 10th September 2016, 12:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 4:24 pm

That was the message echoed throughout Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square as a community came together to remember the sacrifices brave soldiers made in the devastating Battle of Somme 100 years on.

Today marks the centenary of the men from Portsmouth who left to fight on the Somme battlefields.

City leaders, families, veterans and serving members of the armed forces gathered at The Cenotaph to pay their respects and reflect on the horrors that would have been faced as thousands were killed by German machine gun fire during the tragic battle.

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A total of 759 soldiers from Portsmouth were killed in two days in 1916.

Portsmouth’s youngest soldier to die was George Jakes, aged 15. His family travelled from Birmingham for the poignant occasion, put together by the Pompey Pals charity.

George’s name is etched on the World War One memorial at the Cenotaph, along with his brother’s, Edwin, who also died during the conflict.

Keith Jakes, 55, George’s great nephew, reflected on the occasion.

Speaking to The News, Mr Jakes said: ‘It’s a huge occasion for us. He fought for our freedom as a child and gave us the freedom to live the lives we lead today. It’s a great honour to have a bloodline like that.’

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, delivered a speech and spoke of the ‘carnage’ in the mud of France which ‘left its mark’.

And she paid tribute to Portsmouth’s proud military history and the way the city rallied around its troops and kept going after the devastating conflict came to an end.