The Battle of the Somme took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916. It was one of the largest battles of the First World War, in which more than a million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
The Australian troops fought their first bloody battle in France at Fromelles (Nord), on July 19th 1916, as diversionary attack for the Franco-British offensive that had been launched on 1 July on the Somme.
Australian troops joined the Battle of the Somme on 23 July at Pozières when the 1st Australian Division made an assault and captured the ruined village in hard and intense fighting. Three Australian divisions (1st, 2nd and 4th) took their turn at Pozières and all suffered heavily. Over a period of 42 days the Australians made 19 attacks, 16 of them at night; as a consequence, the Australian casualties totalled a staggering 23,000 men, of whom 6,800 were killed.
A service marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme will be held at the Thiepval Memorial in northern France at 12 noon on 1 July 2016. The service is being organised jointly by the United Kingdom and French Governments. An allocation of 25 double passes are available for Australians to attend who are descendants of those who fought in the battle of the Somme.
The attendance passes will be allocated on a first in, first served basis. Tickets are free and available for Australian citizens and permanent residents of Australia, who will be over 18 years on 1 July 2016 (a person under 18 may accompany the pass holder). To request one of the 25 double passes you need to complete the form below and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be asked to identify your ancestor by name and cite his military service number or service record (which can be obtained from the Discovering Anzacs website).
Applications should be made by Monday 14 March and successful applicants will be contacted shortly after they lodge their application. The Australian Government is managing the identification of people for the 25 double passes, after which the ceremony arrangements and information will be the responsibility of the UK Government.Those who are successful in being awarded a double pass are required to self-fund and organise their travel and accommodation.
Please note: If you are unsuccessful in gaining a Battle of the Somme pass, the Australian Government is holding two special commemorative events for Australians in 2016. On 19 July at Fromelles at 1300 a ceremony will be held to commemorate the Centenary of the Australian role in the Battle of Fromelles and on 23 July a ceremony will be held at Pozieres at 1600 to commemorate the Australian role at Pozières.