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Bloodiest battle of World War I remembered 100 years on

Major General Peter Kelly, Chief of the New Zealand Army, walks amongst the graves ahead of a vigil for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in Thiepval, northern France. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Bloodiest battle of World War I remembered 100 years on

Britain’s Queen has led events to mark 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.

Services have been held in Westminster Abbey in London and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the eve of the centenary of one of the bloodiest battles of World War One.

It will be followed by events near the battlefields in France.

The Battle of the Somme, fought in northern France, lasted five months during which the British and French armies, backed by soldiers from New Zealand and Australia, fought the Germans in a brutal battle of attrition.

In the end there were more than one million dead and wounded on all sides.

The New Zealand Division committed 15000 soldiers to the action which resulted in the death of 2000 men, and injuries to a further 6000.

More than half the New Zealand Somme dead have no known grave.

An Australian Government website says 23,000 Australians died in the 1916 and 1918 campaigns on the Somme, half of all those who died in France.

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