AN EXHIBITION has opened at Bradford Cathedral to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

The Bradford World War One Group will be presenting displays throughout July to remember the fallen soldiers.

The Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916, and lasted until November 18, 1916, was one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

More than one million men were killed or injured in the battle, with almost 20,000 Allied troops dying on the first day alone.

Many of the British soldiers who were first to go over the top were members of Pals battalions; groups of men who lived, worked and socialised together, and volunteered to sign up together.

The 1st and 2nd Bradford Pals, both part of the West Yorkshire Regiment, totalling approximately 2,000 men, suffered 1,770 casualties in the first hour of the offensive as they attacked the heavily fortified village of Serre.

One of the banners on display at the cathedral tells the story of David Railton, who was a chaplain in the Army during the Great War, and served at a Bradford church. He was the first person to suggest the idea of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, which was unveiled at Westminster Abbey in 1920.

Tricia Platts, president of the Bradford WW1 Group, said seeing the group’s exhibition, which explains Bradford and the Commonwealth’s role in the Somme and the War as a whole, in the Cathedral was really moving.

She said: “Just looking at the displays brings a lump to my throat, and to bring them all together is fantastic.

“People come from all different backgrounds, so will have completely different reactions to it.”

Mrs Platts also encouraged members of all faiths to visit the exhibition, as the conflict featured fighters from places such as India and Africa, not only white British men.

She said: “It’s absolutely critical in a city like Bradford that people of all faiths and none come to see the exhibition, and the cathedral wants to make it clear their remembrance service is open to all, not just Christians.”

A special banner made by shell-shocked soldiers at the Bradford Khaki Handcrafts Club in 1918, for use at the old Abram Peel Hospital will also be on display for guided tours throughout July.

Alongside the WW1 Group’s exhibition, there is also an art installation by artist Martin Waters called ‘Fallen’, made up of thousands of poppies.

There is also a display by Born in Bradford, of people with photos of their ancestors who fought in the war.

Cat Thatcher, curate at Bradford Cathedral, sent out an open invitation to people of all faiths to attend a service on Saturday, July 9, at 3pm to mark the centenary.

She said: “We are delighted to be hosting these exhibitions and to hold the service; it is an opportunity for the city to remember the heroism of the men who died for our freedom.

“In these times of turmoil in Europe, looking back 100 years to this terrible tragedy and just remembering the sacrifice made by the men and their families. It’s easy to fall into war, and hopefully this can be a reminder to us of how hard we have to try to stop these things happening again.”

She also revealed guests from far and wide would be attending the service.

“A couple of teachers from Highgate School in London are doing a pilgrimage around Britain’s cathedrals, and got in touch to say they will be finishing their tour in Bradford on the day of the service.”

People who want to attend the free Somme commemoration service should contact the Cathedral to reserve a seat by calling 01274 777720, or by emailing

The Fallen art installation, and the WW1 Group and Born in Bradford exhibitions are open throughout July, with guided tours at 1.30pm every Tuesday.