"One hundred years today, the Battle of the Somme, which lasted 141 days and resulted in the loss of 1,088,907 casualties of which 19,240 British soldiers were slain on the first day, took place near the bank of the French River Somme. It was one of the bloodiest battles in our island's history. Along a 15-mile front of northern France, 100,000 British troops tried to advance against the German enemy, led by Field Marshal Douglas Haig. That battle meant that thousands of families never saw their loved ones again, sister lost brother, wife lost husband and mother lost son.
I once heard of a woman who lost her son in the Battle of the Somme and on every anniversary of that battle, she reportedly went to an old brown paper wrapped parcel in which she still kept some of his baby clothes; he having been her only child, something most unusual at the start of the last century. As she cuddled the clothes the boy infant once wore, the mother would wash them once more in her tears of sadness.
We don't know the words she would say, so I have constructed some she might have uttered to herself:
'Never was one so loved as I love you today; never in the whole wide universe was the synchronisation of two hearts ever closer in their beat as one. You are to me all that I ever wanted and dreamed of; all that one creature has a right to hope will one day come their way. Without you, my child, my life would not only be without one source of infinite love, but the true feeling of love itself would be lessened to the strain of such loss. Let me hold on tight to the memory of when I held you close to me when you were still so small and vulnerable so that I may remember in my old age the sensation of true contentment of being and total conviction of a mother's purpose. When you were a child I always knew that the day would come when you left my bosom to establish your own independence and family. I contented myself that you might one day have a wife who cared and loved you as my mother loved me and I loved you. But instead you decided to fight for King and country on the banks of the Somme and wedded to the cause of victory, you gave up your life. If only....if only I could have held you in my arms one last time as you breathed your last on foreign soil and whisper, 'hush' my boy and give your mother just one more loving squeeze, for my heart yearns to be stirred once more.'" William Forde: July 1st,2017.