Vigil To Honour Battle Of The Somme Victims

30 June 2016, 08:07 | Updated: 30 June 2016, 08:09

Arras Battle Somme

A candlelight vigil will be held at Edinburgh Castle on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The bloodiest battle in British military history will be remembered at the Scottish National War Memorial, where members of the public have been invited to pay their respects to the fallen ahead of a service shortly after 9pm.

Reverend Neil Gardner of Canongate Kirk will conduct the service which will see service veterans and cadets place candles within the shrine and a piper perform.

Edinburgh Castle will be floodlit red from dusk onwards as part of commemorations taking place across the UK.

Beginning on July 1 1916, the Battle of the Somme was intended to achieve a decisive victory for the British and French against Germany's forces in the First World War.

By the end of the conflict on November 18, the British had suffered 420,000 casualties, with 19,240 troops dying on the first day alone.

Fifty-one Scottish battalions took part in the campaign, including the 16th Battalion Royal Scots which was largely composed of professional and amateur sportsmen and their supporters.

At the end of tonight's vigil the Memorial will close to the public and representatives of regimental associations and services will keep watch until 7.30am on Friday, when soldiers were led into battle a century ago.

A morning service will see those gathered respect a two-minute silence to remember those who fought.

At Westminster Abbey in London, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will join the congregation for a vigil, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will attend events at the Thiepval Memorial in France, where 70,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave are commemorated.