The Duke of York, representing the Queen, and Chancellor George Osborne, were among the 1,000 guests including military representatives, UK ambassadors and high commissioners representing the combatant nations for a moving commemoration service at Manchester Cathedral.
All stood as the fanfare sounded to begin the service with the processional hymn.
The Very Reverend Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester, began the service, telling the congregation:
The first lesson was read by Mr Richard Hughes, from the Western Front Association, a reading from the the Book of Ecclesiastes.
The commemoration was read by Nadia Emam, from an unknown diary entry entitled Goodbye To Manchester, about a tearful scene as mothers, wives and children waved off the troops from a train station as they headed off to war:
Another reading entitled Before The Somme: A Son Writes Home, was given by Jack Benjamin, beginning: "My Dearest Mother and Dad." It was written by 2nd Lieutenant John Sherwin Engall, of the 16th London Regiment, on June 30th, 1916. The following day he was killed, aged 20, on the first day of the battle.
Lt Engall says in the letter:
A short passage was read by Liam Evans-Ford, by William Orpen, a war artist, written in 1921 after returning to the battlefield, entitled The Somme Transformed.
The Second Lesson was read by the Duke of York, from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew before the Act of Remembrance, led by the Right Reverend James Newcombe, National Chaplain to The Royal British Legion.
The Last Post rang out in silence, before Flowers of the Forest was played by a lone piper, a moment of silence was held then broken as the Reveille played.