Members of the public can now apply for tickets to attend a vigil commemorating the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, taking place at the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle on the evening of Thursday 30 June.

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© IWM (Q 746) Roll Call of the 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, near Beaumont Hamel on the afternoon of 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Organised in partnership with WW100 Scotland, Legion Scotland, the Scottish National War Memorial, the Ministry of Defence, Historic Environment Scotland and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the vigil will be open to the public to pay respects to those who fell, with tickets available for four separate time slots between the hours of 6:45 pm and 8:30pm.

Chair of the WW100 Scottish Commemorations Panel, Norman Drummond said:

“On the night of Thursday 30th June till 7:30 on the morning of Friday 1st July across the UK many people will be participating in Vigils to commemorate the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. Scotland’s national Vigil will take place in the Scottish National War Memorial which is sited within Edinburgh Castle.  It promises to be a very moving occasion with those who wish to pay their respects filing silently through the Memorial past the Shrine where the Casket containing the original Role of Honour for the fallen of WWI will be guarded by sentinels with heads bowed.”

Ticket holders for the last entry time are invited to a short service typical of those held in the battlefield, before the vigil closes to the public at 9.30pm. Through the night, the Vigil will be attended by representatives of Regimental Associations and Services who will keep watch until 7:30 am on 1st July, at which time the Battle began.

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IWM (Q 1099): Pipe band of the Gordon Highlanders near Becourt Wood, September 1916

The Battle of the Somme was the largest Western Front battle of the First World War, beginning on 1st July 1916 and ending 141 days later on 18th November. By the end of the battle, the British Army had suffered 420,000 casualties. There were 57,470 on the first day alone, 19,240 of whom died.

Fifty one Scottish battalions took part in the campaign, including the renowned 16th Battalion Royal Scots ‘McCrae’s Battalion’, which was largely composed of professional and amateur sportsmen and their supporters. The Battalion lost 12 officers and 573 soldiers in the attack on the first day.

Tickets for the vigil can be ordered here or by calling the ticket hotline on 0300 244 4000, Monday-Friday, 9:00am – 5:30pm.