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Queen marks centenary of Battle of the Somme as overnight vigil held at Westminster Abbey

Dr Chartres highlighted the Abbey’s overnight vigil which followed the service and was centred on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior – the first time the place of worship had hosted such an event since the peace vigils for the Cuban Missile Crisis more than 50 years ago.

He said: “As we keep our vigil by the graveside of the Unknown Warrior who represents all those who perished in the Great War, it is for us to remember the fearful beginning of the battle of the Somme and to salute the courage and sacrifice of those who went over the top.”

During the service prayers were said for the First World War dead and hymns were sung by the congregation who included descendants of the men who fought at the Somme. 

The final watch around the grave will begin at 7.15am on Friday and just over 15 minutes later – at the moment the whistles blew to signal the start of the battle – a trench whistle…

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