We come today to remember the men who died at the battles of the Somme; especially the men of Southport and Formby.
I have a poem to read:
The first July dawn in Picardy 1916.
A short march from Maricourt chateau.
At last the incessant, pounding guns fall silent.
A skylark defies the dying din, soars and sings its joyous notes above.
Below, hearts pound in youthful chests.
Despite the warm red rum coursing through veins.
Four thousand Liverpool Kingsmen wait with Pals from Manchester;
Regulars from Yorkshire, Bedfordshire, Wiltshire and Royal Scots Fusiliers.
These older heads will guide the young ‘uns through!
(Indignant, angry French comrades on their right-this is far from new to them!)
Steel bayonets click on rifle barrels,
Flashing light on pale young faces, mouths as dry as dust.
Shrill whistles call them to duty.
Duty bravely done-objectives dearly gained.
As lark gives way to nightingale, Montaubon is wrestled from the foe!
200 Liverpool Pals will never see another dawn.
The battles to come will see, many Southport men join the ranks of the fallen, among them:
Privates Delbanco, Kingston, McDonald, Thomas and Thorp,
Lance Corporal Maybrick and Corporal Ramsbottom .
The wounds of nearly 700 neatly dressed; blood staunched.
But who can staunch a broken mind or replace a missing limb?
The Pals can sleep their fitful sleep.
Less final than nearly 20,000 comrades to the north.
On the first day of 141 days of hell.
Victorious Pals from Lancashire, Liverpool, Cheshire and elsewhere.
Belie the dreadful slaughter of that day
And the final, terrible toll of perhaps 300,000 souls.
“Their name liveth for evermore”. Rest in Peace.
During the service a lone piper played Flowers of the Forest. Below is a recording of Isla St Clair singing that haunting Scottish lament which was originally written for the fallen at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.