News / Society

Soldiers haunt streets of Bristol

By louis emanuel, Friday Jul 1, 2016

Bristol has become home for a day to a haunting memorial for those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme which began 100 years ago.

A group of silent soldiers left Bristol Old Vic this morning, and marched along the pavements to Temple Meads, where they loitered listlessly between the hum of commuters before marching through Queen Square to the fountains and into the city centre.

They stopped only to hand out simple cards with names and battalions of people who died on July 1, 1916, the bloodiest day in British military history when 60,000 lives were lost.

Photo by Rosie Ladkin

Handed this by one of the soldiers. I appear to have something in my eye. Just taking a few moments. #Somme

A photo posted by Bill Thompson (@billthomuk) on

More than one million people died during the Battle of the Somme, fought in northern France over five months.

Similar tributes are taking place across the country, with images being shared on social media via #wearehere, and some groups have been recorded breaking into powerful song.

Lily Barton, a florist at Temple Meads, saw the soldiers appear. She said: “They broke into song and gradually all of them joined in. It was very moving, everyone stopped and stared.”

In the city centre, their silence created an unusual stillness. Each soldier represents a man who lost his life 100 years ago today, and as curious onlookers asked what they were doing, they simply smiled sad smiles, and gave out their cards. A lot of people took photos, whilst others sat with the soldiers and told them their stories.

For some, the experience was deeply personal. Graham Street’s father left Bristol for the Battle of the Somme and never came back. “It’s wonderful to see these soldiers here, reminding us of those we’ve lost,” he said. “I’m very touched.”


Waterloo station this morning #somme100 #wearehere

A video posted by @sankm28 on


Incredibly moving and poignant scenes in Bristol this morning to commemorate The Battle of the Somme #WeAreHere

A photo posted by Amy Treasure (@mrandmrstplus3) on


Top picture by Alastair Campbell

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