The events of the first day of the Battle of the Somme were remembered at 8am today with a simple service by the War Memorial to mark the centenary. Gordon J W Francis, a Private in the Royal Fusiliers died on 1 July 1916 and is remembered on the Memorial. He was born in 1891 and lived at 21 High Street, now the butchers. He was a carpenter and married Lillian in 1907. He had two children. He was a bell-ringer and is remembered also on the War Memorial in Chelmsford Cathedral and, specifically today, in the ringing on muffled bells at the church he attended. An ordinary man - like the nearly 20000 who were killed 100 years ago to the day.
Friday, 1 July 2016
The Revd. Edward Reeve, rector of Stondon Massey, kept a diary called ‘Notes for a Parish History. In it he wrote his observations of the First World War from his study in what is now Stondon Massey House.
“1st July 1916: As I write, the reverberation of the great guns and explosion of mines are shaking the windows of the Rectory and of all the other houses, I suppose, in the southern and south-eastern counties of England. There is evidently a very heavy bombardment in progress."