ww1-memorial2In a field near the French village of Authuille on the morning of 1st July 1916 three hundred and fifty young men from the Dorset Regiment were killed.  It was the first morning of the Battle of the Somme – the infamous and disastrous battle of the First World War.  The total number of casualties on day one of the battle was 60,000 – 19,000 died.

In all, more than 4,500 of Dorset’s young men were killed in the Great War, another 16,000 survived, many living with terrible injuries.  In the ninety five years since there have been many memorials erected in France and elsewhere – but never one to the Dorsets.   And after a big fund raising effort lead by the Western Front Association that wrong has now been righted.

ww1-memorial3Local company Stoneform, based at Bockhampton near Dorchester, were commissioned to build an obelisk in Portland stone.  A service of dedication was held on a bright sunny morning, (sat 7th May 2011) close to the village of Authuille.

Present at the event were many former soldiers of the Devon and Dorset Regiment (as the Dorsets became in 1958) as well as some relatives of those men who served in World War I and young Cadets, bringing the story to the next generation.

The memorial will stand not just for those who died on the Somme but also the Territorials and Yeomanry who fought and died elsewhere on the Western Front in France, in the Middle East and in Mesopotamia.

A Committee of volunteers, supported by the Dorset and South Wilts Branch Western Front Association, who meet in Pimperne, organised the appeal which raised more than £23,000, most of it donated by individuals and organisations throughout Dorset.

ww1-memorialMajor Roger Coleman one of the committee said that it was an ‘an amazing and emotive response from the relatives of those who died some of whom will be present at the dedication’.

The memorial will be a much needed focus for all those families and school groups from Dorset who visit the Western Front.

On the base of the obelisk is that famous quotation from Thomas Hardy ‘Victory crowns the just’.

For more information go to http://www.wfa-dorsetswilts.org.uk/war-memorials/dorset-regiment.htm or http://www.keepmilitarymuseum.org/somme/


#1 mrkeith baker 04-06-2013 22:12
my grandfather william e bagge was a segeant in the regiment and i need to find out where he fought in france can anyone help please thanks
#2 Sgt Bagged0g 05-06-2013 06:10
See the Regimental timelines here...

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