Object of the week- The Somme medal

Leeds, Leeds Star

Presented to a Leeds First World War veteran, The Somme Medal is a moving reminder of the immense courage shown by those who fought in one of history’s bloodiest battles.

The medal recently went on display as part of Leeds City Museum’s In Their Footsteps exhibition as the city commemorates 100 years since The Battle of the Somme.

It was issued to local soldier Lance Corporal Thomas Hinsley Place, a member of the Leeds Pals Regiment, 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, which suffered particularly heavy losses during the battle, which began on July 1, 1916.

The Battle of the Somme resulted in the worst losses of British Army personnel during the First World War, and was one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

Of the 750 members of The Leeds Pals who fought that day, just 72 were uninjured by nightfall.

The medal was only issued to those who were able to prove that they had participated in any of the battles that occurred in the Somme region from 1914 to 1918.

It is made from bronze with a silk ribbon and features two soldiers from antiquity with a French cockerel behind the British lion in the foreground on one side.

The translation of the inscription reads ‘Battles of the Somme, July-November 1916′ while the other side carries a single inscription translating as ‘Combatants of the Somme 1914-1918-1940’.

The Leeds collection also features other items belonging to Thomas as well as his brother Alfred, a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy.

Thomas survived the war but sadly his brother did not. However, both received commendations- Thomas the Meritorious Service Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty and Alfred the Albert Medal for saving life with the loss of his own life in 1916.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “As we remember the immeasurable sacrifice made by so many soldiers at the Battle of the Somme a century ago, medals like this are a poignant reminder of the courage of those individual servicemen, who left their homes and families to fight for their country.

“It is very moving to find out more about their stories and gives a powerful perspective on a conflict that profoundly changed the course of history.”

In Their Footsteps is at Leeds City Museum until Jan 2017. For more details, visit: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/In-their-Footsteps.aspx