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Significant Landmarks in 2016

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2016 will be of particular significance in a number of ways, not least that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her 90th birthday.

In case you hadn't realised, 2016 is also a 'leap year' — enjoy the 29 February!

There are likely to be events in schools all over the country as every pupil recalls '1066 And All That' — 2016 marks the 950th Anniversary of The Battle of Hastings!

Summer 2016 will witness the Olympic Games being hosted for the first time in South America. I wonder if Rio will be as exciting for us all as was 2012 — good luck to Rio (only 217 days to go)!

2016 also marks the Centenary of 'The Battle of the Somme' which is recognised to have been one of the worst battles of The Great War. The Somme Offensive (to divert attention away from the pressures at Verdun) began on 1 July 1916 and was catastrophic for the British Army with some 20,000 fatalities on the first day of the Battle alone. The death toll at the Somme was particularly harrowing since many of those that died were 'pals battalions', youngsters who had signed up following the introduction of compulsory conscription in January 1916 and who had received virtually no training in combat.

Last month, a member of the Webteam went back to the Somme to see how preparations are progressing in readiness for the Centenary commemorations.

At Thiepval, one of the principal focal points for remembrance in the Somme, the 'Monument to the Fallen' is completely shrouded in scaffolding and under full repair in advance of the national commemorative events which will be held on 1 July 2016. This Centenary event will be hosted by the UK and French Governments, in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Thiepval Monument to the Missing of the Somme is one of the most distinctive Anglo-French monuments of the Western Front, its multiple arches containing the names of over 72,000 soldiers who have no known graves. The Thiepval Visitor Centre is also being extended to create new exhibition areas which will be devoted to the battles of the Somme.

Whilst in the area, our roving reporter also visited 'Albert' where Private Herbert Hodskinson (changed on army records to 'Hodgkinson'), a 22 year old Burwardsley man, is buried at Martinsart British Cemetery. Private Hodskinson served in both The Cheshire Regiment and with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Martinsart British Cemetery, north of Albert in the Somme, is unique in that the headstones are not of the usual Portland Stone but are distinctively red in colour and are made from Corsehill or Locharbriggs sandstone. These materials were used as a trial in the early days of the War Graves Commission to test for the effects of weathering. You will see from the image of Private Hodskinson's grave, that his headstone is in a very poor condition. Particularly poignant at this Cemetery, however, was that Private Hodskinson came from Burwardsley, a Sandstone Ridge Village, and that sandstone was a touching reminder of the area in which he grew up.

For the stories of Tattenhall and Burwardsley men of both World Wars, visit www.tattenhallhistory.co.uk