Lancaster exhibition to mark Somme centenary

The Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme

Lancaster City Museum will host an exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme by showcasing the role the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment played in the conflict.

‘141 Days: The Battle of the Somme’ exhibition tells the story of the regiment’s role in the combat, but also the typical life of a frontline soldier when they weren’t fighting.

Battle of the Somme

Battle of the Somme

The exhibition runs from Saturday July 23 and includes items from the collection of the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum.

County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “The Somme is one of the most famous - and futile - battles ever fought and I’m pleased that we are hosting an exhibition to mark its centenary.

“More than 10,000 soldiers served with the King’s Own in the Somme, most were from Lancashire, many were from Lancaster and nearby. Sadly 950 of these soldiers lost their lives in this battle, and many more were injured.

“The display includes the Victoria Cross, the highest gallantry medal, awarded to Private James Miller from Withnell, Chorley, who carried an important message and returned, although fatally wounded, with the reply and then died at the foot of his officer.

“This action is recorded in a poem, The Story of the Message, written by former Colour Sergeant, Sgt Ellis Williams, in 1916.

“Original copies of this poem, sold in aid of war charities, are also featured in the exhibition. The exhibition doesn’t just tell the story of the actions though, as it also looks at the typical life of the soldier when he wasn’t in action, and hopefully provides a fitting tribute to their heroic service 100 years ago.”

A range of family-friendly activities linked to the exhibition will be taking place over the summer. These include the chance for children to work with professional musicians to create a soundtrack inspired by the items on display.

These activities will take place on Tuesday August 9 and Tuesday August 23. They are suitable for children aged from five to 11. There’s no need to book, you can just turn up.

The UNESCO-listed documentary, The Battle of the Somme, filmed in the build-up to and first day of the battle, will also be shown as part of the exhibition.

The Battle of the Somme film gave an unprecedented insight into the realities of trench warfare, controversially including the depiction of dead and wounded soldiers.

It includes footage of the 1st East Lancashire Regiment, 1st Lancashire Fusiliers and 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers. The film was premiered in London on August 10, 1916, and received its first screening in Lancaster on October 5 at the Palladium in Market Street.

The film’s importance was recognised in 2005 by its inscription in the UNESCO Memory of the World register, one of the few films and first British documents of any kind to be included.

The exhibition runs until Sunday November 20. Entry to the museum is free. Opening times are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and also Mondays in the summer school holidays.

Financial support to host this exhibition has been provided by the Sir John Fisher Foundation and the Army Museum’s Ogilby Trust, as well as the Trustees of the King’s Own Museum.

The museum is run by Lancashire County Council on behalf of Lancaster City Council.

For more information about the exhibition telephone 01524 64637 or email lancastercitymuseum@lancashire.gov.uk.