Battle Of The Somme Centenary Sees Poppies Made From Bullet Shells Worn In Memory

Almost a million soldiers lost their lives there.

Commemoration have begun to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

While many are used to wearing a red poppy around Remembrance Day, the Royal British Legion is encouraging people to display a particularly poignant reminder of those who lost their lives in the bloody four-month battle that began on July 1, 1916.

<strong>Soldiers in the trenches at the Somme</strong>
Soldiers in the trenches at the Somme
Handout . / Reuters

Gold poppies, made from the brass of melted down bullet shells from the battlefield, are being sold by the organisation, with proceeds going towards caring their work supporting British veterans and their families.

The touching tribute also features a red centre, using paint mixed with soil from the Somme.

Just 19,240 of the poppy pins have been made - one for every soldier killed on the first day of the battle, the bloodiest in British military history.

TMB Art Metal
TMB Art Metal
TMB Art Metal
TMB Art Metal
TMB Art Metal
TMB Art Metal

Each poppy comes with a certificate explaining which soldier it commemorates.

Christopher Bennett, the poppies' creator, said that his involvement with the project was an honour, adding: "While holding a piece of a legendary car or plane in my hand is fantastic and a privilege, it is truly humbling to hold a piece of profound history in the form of a shell fuse found on the Somme.

"To walk along the old front line and find these fuses linked to such an important event in our country’s history is what this project is all about. These men were loyal everyday volunteers, and none of them really understood the situation they were going to be encountering, but all of them – the men who died and who lived – were heroes.

"This was very much a labour of love, and is a project that has meant a lot to me personally."

He added: "This visually attractive poppy honours the fallen of our World Wars and allows you to wear and carry a piece of history with you at all times. The annual Poppy Appeal is a wonderful tribute, but is very seasonal.

"The Somme 100 Centenary Poppy Pin is a subtle and tasteful tribute that can be worn by anyone, all year round. By crafting the pins by hand, I feel we have honoured the soldiers in a way that anonymous factory mass production could never achieve."

<strong>The scars of the battle can still be seen on the land today</strong>
The scars of the battle can still be seen on the land today

By the end of the battle, which finally came on 18 November 1916, almost a million men had been lost on both sides.

Particularly badly hit were the "Pals battalions", groups of friends, colleagues or team mates with minimal military training who joined up together.

The fields of the Somme remain pockmarked with craters from the battle to this day and many of the original trenches still remain.

The UK will fall silent for two minutes to mark the centenary on Friday.

The Queen and other senior royals will lead commemorations at Westminster Abbey.

According to the Independent, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will attend evening events at the Thiepval Memorial in France.

They will be joined by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and 10,000 members of the British public.