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  1. Derek Johnson

Somme 100: China's forgotten army

On Friday, July 1 we mark 100 years since The Somme - one of the deadliest battles in British history.

Like the rest of the war it could not have been fought without troops from India, the West Indies and other Empire countries.

But a crucial role was played in the Great War by other men from overseas who came together because so many British soldiers were killed at The Somme - the Chinese Labour Corps.

We speak to Steve Lau from the Ensuring We Remember campaign and to Wenlan Peng from the Meridian Society.

The Meridian Society promotes Chinese culture with the aim of fostering better understanding between people of Chinese origin and those from other ethnic backgrounds, both in the UK and worldwide.

  1. Derek Johnson

Somme 100: Crater of war, symbol of peace

They called it The Big Push.

The Somme in 1916 was designed to be a decisive breakthrough in the First World War but was instead a costly failure.

On Friday July 1 we mark 100 years since the start of the battle. It began after a series of mines were detonated, the signal for soldiers to go over the top.

One of the explosions left a huge crater which a century on has become the focus of remembrance and reflection.

We speak to: Lochnagar Crater owner Richard Dunning and historian Alex Churchill, author of Somme: 141 Days, 141 Lives. Also to Michael Fellows and Richard Frankish, whose fathers fought on The Somme.


  1. Derek Johnson

Somme 100 - The British Army's darkest day

Preparations are underway to mark 100 years since The Somme - one of the deadliest battles in British history.

Relatives, politicians and members of the Royal Family will attend a series of commemorative events in France next week remembering the more than one million men on both sides who were killed or wounded.

The battle, which began on on July 1 1916, was an attempt to break the deadlock during the First World War when soldiers were dug into miles of trenches and ditches.

We speak to: Betty Foster, who was visiting her uncle's grave on The Somme; Alex Churchill, author of 'Somme: 141 days, 141 lives' - and Phil Betts of the Frittenden Historical Society.

Great War comes to life for children

A special lesson for the children Credit: AWE

The Great War came to life for children at Aldermaston Primary School when they hand-wrote the names of local men you died. They will be used in a ‘Centenary Plaque’, commissioned by the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

With the help of David Whithorn, an AWE Historian and Great War expert, the children learned about what it would have been like for soldiers of that era, before hand-writing the names of 44 local men.

Dressed in a Royal Berkshire Regiment dress uniform from the period, David brought history to life for the year 6 pupils who took part in the special task.

Family honour: Pilot heroes from two World Wars

Son and father - Willie and William Rhodes-Moorhouse Credit: W.B. Rhodes-Moorhouse VC Charitable Trust

Friday July 10 marks 75 years since the Battle of Britain, the decisive air battle of 1940 which kept this country and Europe free.

For more than three months the RAF fought in the skies above Southern England against Luftwaffe fighters attempting to establish air superiority over Britain and pave the way for a Nazi invasion.

Victory came thanks to 3,000 or so young pilots and air crew who became immortalised as The Few. In all 544 lost their lives, including Flight Lieutenant Willie Rhodes-Moorhouse from Dorset.

The family cemetery in Dorset Credit: ITV Meridian

Willie was killed when his Hurricane crash-landed near Tunbridge Wells in Kent in September 1940, just days after he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

His death had great poignancy because his father - also William - was also killed as a pilot in combat, and was also honoured for his bravery.

In fact William Rhodes-Moorhouse, who died during the Great War in 1915, was the first aviator to receive the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour for gallantry.

Derek Johnson speaks to relative William Cavendish Credit: ITV Meridian

ITV Meridian reporter Derek Johnson has traced the story of the father and son whose stories reflect the tragedy many families endured in both World Wars.

In this piece he speaks to: William Cavendish, William's great nephew and Douglas Beazer from Beaminster Museum.

We also hear from Lord Ashcroft whose ''passion for bravery'' in his words has lead him to collect Victoria Crosses. He owns William Rhodes-Moorhouse’s VC and it is among his 190-strong collection now on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Celebrating centenary year of Great War on stage

Video. A school in Sussex is making the centenary year of the First World War in a very special way. Students at the Burgess School for Girls have written a musical about the assassin blamed for starting the war.

Malcolm Shaw spoke to some of the cast and directors, including Michael Dunk, who plays Gavrilo Princip, Directors of the production Lily Williams, Amy Scott and Beth King and Polly Beaumont who plays Ana Obrenovic.


Hampshire MP helping to co-ordinate WW1 anniversary events

Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who is the MP for Basingstoke, has asked Hugh Robertson MP, a former Army officer, and Andrew Murrison, the Prime Minister's special representative, to form the ministerial team focusing on the programme

Mr Robertson also commanded The Household Cavalry on the 1993 Queen's Birthday Parade and the State Opening of Parliament. A Government source said: "We are keen to ensure that this is a centenary programme that the country can come together on.

Plans unveiled for World War 1 centenary

It is understood the Government is in talks with various churches, faiths and other organisations to see if the vigil could be replicated around the country.

Organisers hope churches, town halls and other community buildings will mirror proceedings at the Abbey and that thousands of candles will be blown out simultaneously across the country at 11pm.

They also want the day to be inclusive, with all generations and communities getting involved.

It is believed that a wide range of groups will be invited to the Westminster vigil including the Brownies, Scouts, Guides and representatives from all services of the British military.