Wreaths laid at the Wiltshire Regiment memorial to mark the Somme centenary

Written by Tony Millett on .

Monday morning, July 18, 2016 and the sun was shining hot and bright.  One hundred years ago on this day the Battle of the Somme was a mere seventeen days old - with many months of carnage ahead.

The Marlborough Branch of the Royal British Legion organised a brief and solemn wreath laying ceremony at the memorial - on the Salisbury Road-London Road junction - to the Seventh Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment.

This memorial marks that battalion's training period in Marlborough during the first winter of the First World War.  After training they served in France and other theatres.

The wreath laying also marked the wider membership of the Wiltshire Regiment which included many Marlborough men, and it marked especially the part the Wiltshire Regiment played in the Battle of the Somme - one hundred years ago.

In the early days of July 1916, men of the Regiment took terrible casualties in their attack on the German's Leipzig Redoubt.  You can read a British Army Staff Officer's contemporary account of that action on Marlborough.News.

The Town Mayor The Town Mayor For the Royal British Legion For the Royal British Legion Rev Dr Janneke Blokland Rev Dr Janneke Blokland

Wreaths were laid at the memorial by the Town Mayor, Councillor Noel Barrett-Morton, Councillor Alec Light of the Royal British Legion and by Rev Dr Janneke Blokland the Team Curate at St Mary's Church and Marlborough Churches Together, who said prayers before the wreath laying.

Nearly 5,000 officers and men of the Wiltshire Regiment were killed in action or died of wounds received in battle during the First World War.  

Below is one of the few photographs of the Battle of Somme - taken by Ernest Brooks its shows men of the Wiltshire Regiment going in action near Thiepval on August 7, 1916.  It is not clear which battalion these men were from as both the 1st and 6th Wiltshires were involved in the fighting in that area at that time.