Battle of the Somme Memorials Listed

  • Historic England marks 100 years since the Battle of the Somme - one of the bloodiest battles in the First World War- with 15 new and upgraded war memorial listings
  • Memorials at home mark the terrible consequences for communities across England after the massive losses
  • Several memorials commemorate the Pals Battalions- the men who signed up as friends, then fought and died together
  • Other memorials remember the role of nurses, vets, and even a young Scout who escaped death in tragic sailing accident, only to be killed at the Somme

To mark 100 years since the Battle of the Somme, 15 memorials across the country which commemorate those killed in one of the worst battles of the First World War have been listed or upgraded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

Image of City and County of London Troops War Memorial outside the Royal Exchange in London, newly upgraded to II*. This memorial commemorates the many units associated with the city, including nurses, vets and the nine battalions which suffered heavy losses during the Somme. It was designed by Sir Aston Webb, once President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and designer of The Mall and Buckingham Palace.
City and County of London Troops War Memorial outside the Royal Exchange in London, newly upgraded to II*. This memorial commemorates the many units associated with the city, including nurses, vets and the nine battalions which suffered heavy losses during the Somme. It was designed by Sir Aston Webb, once President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and designer of The Mall and Buckingham Palace. © Historic England

The worst day in the history of the British Army

The first day of the battle, 1 July 1916, is known as the worst day in the history of the British Army as nearly 60,000 British men, all volunteers, were killed, wounded or listed as missing. The Somme ended on 18 November 1916; by then there had been over 400,000 British casualties for a maximum advance of only 8 miles.

Fighting alongside friends

The battle affected communities large and small across the land and our war memorials remember these terrible losses. Among the 7 newly listed and 8 upgraded memorials are several in Yorkshire and the North West commemorating the bravery of Pals Battalions.

These were formed of men who signed up together and fought together, having been promised that they could serve alongside their friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Most of the Pals Battalions didn’t see major action until the Somme where many suffered heavy casualties. Towns and cities, even particular streets, lost large numbers of men, which had a huge impact on communities across England.

Image of the detail on Accrington War Memorial in Oak Hill Park, Accrington, Lancashire. The memorial, with its connections to the Battle of the Somme, has been upgraded to Grade II*
Detail on Accrington War Memorial in Oak Hill Park, Accrington, Lancashire. The memorial, with its connections to the Battle of the Somme and the Accrington Pals Battalion which suffered heavy losses at the battle, has been upgraded to Grade II* © Historic England

Among the memorials newly upgraded to II* is Accrington War Memorial in Lancashire. The terrible losses of 1 July 1916, the first day of the Somme, had a special resonance with the people of Accrington: nearly one-third of the town’s servicemen died on that day alone.

Within half an hour of going over the top on the morning of the 1st, most of the 720 Accrington Pals had been killed or injured.

Percy Holmes, the brother of an original Pal recalled, “I remember when the news came through to Accrington that the Pals had been wiped out. I don’t think there was a street in Accrington that didn’t have their blinds drawn, and the bell at Christ Church tolled all the day.”

Image of Commondale Shepherd’s Memorial on the North York Moors, newly listed at Grade II. This unusually commemorates just two individuals: Robert Leggott and Alfred Cockerill were boyhood friends and shepherds working on the moorland near Commondale. They signed up together in 1914.
Commondale Shepherd’s Memorial on the North York Moors, newly listed at Grade II. This unusually commemorates just two individuals: Robert Leggott and Alfred Cockerill were boyhood friends and shepherds working on the moorland near Commondale. They signed up together in 1914. © Historic England

Memorials to the fallen

Among the newly listed at Grade II is the Commondale Shepherd’s Memorial on the North York Moors. This simple, rough-hewn stone marker unusually commemorates just two individuals: Robert Leggott and Alfred Cockerill were boyhood friends and shepherds working on the moorland near Commondale.

They signed up together in 1914, though Leggott, just 17, lied about his age to enlist. He was killed at the Battle of the Somme in September and his body was never found.

Cockerill was injured in the head at Ypres and brought home, having developed epilepsy. He died in 1920 and his ashes are thought to have been scattered where the monument now stands- remembered as the boys’ favourite spot on the moors.

Elsewhere, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s striking Preston War Memorial, his very first classical design, has been promoted to the highest level of recognition- Grade I.

Image of Carlton Colville Scouts Memorial in Carlton Colville, Suffolk, newly listed at Grade II.
Carlton Colville Scouts Memorial in Carlton Colville, Suffolk, newly listed at Grade II. © Historic England

One of the more unusual new listings is Carlton Colville Scouts Memorial in Suffolk, listed at Grade II. The memorial marks the grave of seven men, including four teenaged Scouts, who were killed in a sailing accident on the River Waveney in 1914.

The sole survivor, Stanley Wood, later died at the Battle of the Somme on 19 July 1916, though his body was never found. Stanley’s name was added to the Scouts Memorial so he could be commemorated beside his friends.

First World War and Heritage Minister David Evennett said: "These memorials are a poignant reminder of those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago and an important part of our heritage.  It is only right that they are protected to ensure that we continue to remember the sacrifices made during the First World War."

Roger Bowdler of Historic England said: “Important as it was for wearing down the enemy, the battle of the Somme demanded a terrible price in lives lost from across the land. Alongside the Thiepval Arch on the battlefield, newly listed and upgraded memorials remind us of how communities at home paid tribute to those they had lost.”

Newly listed memorials:

Newly upgraded memorials:

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