Battle of the Somme: Soldiers’ march is re-enacted

The troops march through Alnwick.
The troops march through Alnwick.

A parade from Newcastle to Alnwick which was taken by troops preparing to fight in the Battle of the Somme has been recreated for television.

The story of the Tyneside Scots has been chosen as part of a special series of features by BBC Look North to commemorate 100 years since the start of the offensive on July 1, 1916.

The troops arrive at Alnwick Castle, as Lord James Percy takes the salute.

The troops arrive at Alnwick Castle, as Lord James Percy takes the salute.

In January 1915, the Tyneside Scots marched from Tyneside to the Northumberland town to a training camp in Alnwick Pastures, offered by the then Duke.

Here, they would form part of the Northumberland Fusiliers to carry out their training before deploying to the Somme – where many were slaughtered. In tribute, BBC Look North decided to shine a light on the Tyneside Scots’ story and the poignant feature was aired on the programme on Monday.

Filming for the piece took place in early June, with Reservists from the 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery, 204 (Tyneside Scottish) Battery, re-enacting the march from Newcastle to Alnwick. They had an overnight stop at Eshott Airfield en route. They arrived at Alnwick Castle from Kingston Park and Lord James Percy, who is the Honorary Colonel of the 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, took the salute. They then moved to the Pastures where the soldiers re-enacted an existing photo taken just before the original Tyneside Scots set off for the Somme. The photo, which is in the Bailiffgate Museum, features the then Duke on his horse surrounded by the troops and is taken in the Pastures. As part of the Somme commemorations, Alnwick Castle will be staging a flower festival – entitled Remembering the Somme – from tomorrow until Sunday.

It will be a fund-raising event for SSAFA, the charity which works to support members of the Forces and their families. The main centrepiece, which will be in the Upper Guards Chamber at the castle, will feature two drums lent by the Fusiliers Museum.

This particular arrangement will be in red and white and will include simple English flowers and roses, as a part of the tribute.

The Duchess of Northumberland is currently Branch President of SSAFA and has given 1,000 tickets to sell at £10 each to raise funds. These are valid once over the three days and give access to all the state rooms at the Castle. They are available from www.jumblebee.co.uk/ssafa-northumberland