Published: Thursday, 23rd June 2016
The centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 will be marked by a commemorative service beginning at All Saints’ Church in Hillington Square at 6.30pm.
Cllr David Whitby, Mayor of the Borough of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, said: "This is a particularly poignant anniversary as it was one of the bloodiest battles for all sides in history and is a stark reminder of the sacrifices that have been made and are still being made by our service personnel. I urge all members of our local community to join us in marking this centenary”.
At the end of the service a light will be taken from the church to Tower Gardens for an act of remembrance at 7.30pm. The light will shine in the Greyfriars tower until November, marking the 141 day duration of the battle.
Several Lynn men lost their lives in the battle, and the stories of some of them will be told during the service, along with reading war poetry inspired by the battle.
All Saints’ Church contains a window that commemorates Robert Bardell, who was killed in the Battle of the Somme. It shows Jesus as the Light of the World with a lantern in his hand. Attempts to find the likeness of Robert Bardell have so far proved unsuccessful. Despite having such a large memorial installed to his memory, no photographs of him have been found. It has been conjectured that one of the saints depicted in the window may display his likeness. Robert Bardell was a prominent citizen in the town. The son of William and Martha Bardell he lived at London Road and Melrose House Goodwins Road. He was manager and partner in the family business, The King’s Lynn Building Material Company, and was instrumental in works to the sewerage system, street paving and restoration work on local churches. He was a prominent member of All Saints’ Church where he was sidesman and member of the parochial church council. He was also a councillor and magistrate.
Robert volunteered in September 1915. As he was a keen tennis player he joined the 1st Sportsman’s Battalion which had an upper age limit of 45 and was “entirely for the upper and middle classes, professional men, sportsmen, stockbrokers,clerks etc.” It had two England cricketers and the British Lightweight Boxing Champion among its ranks.
His battalion was involved in the attack on Delville Wood on 27 July 1916. German artillery shelled the wood continuously from 11am until midnight. Robert was one of 57 officers and men killed that day, although his date of death is recorded as 29 July. His body might have been found later or he may have died from wounds.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. After the war Robert’s mother had the memorial window commissioned in his memory which was dedicated by the Bishop of Thetford in 1920.
If anyone has a photograph of Robert Bardell, All Saints’ Church would dearly like to see it, to put a face to one more name on the South Lynn War Memorial. Please contact the Rector, Fr Adrian Ling: AdrianRLing@btinternet.com.
This anniversary event has been organised by the Royal British Legion King's Lynn together with Father Adrian Ling at All Saints' Church, with support from the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk.