GUEST COLUMN: Service in memory of Somme dead was emotional, by Coun Martin Wright

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At 7.30 am on July 1, 1916 the whistles blew signalling the start of the Battle of the Somme during World War One.

British and Commonwealth troops climbed out of trenches and many walked to their death without even seeing the enemy.

They were cut down by the enemy machine guns.

That day 19,240 allied troops died for “king and country” with a total of 57,470 casualties.

Historians call it the “bloodiest day in British military history.”

The battle lasted 141 days during which 157 soldiers from the Mansfield area died — 20 on the first day of the battle alone.

Recently, the Royal British Legion organised a commemoration ceremony at the Old Town Memorial in Carr Bank Park, Mansfield in order to pay their respects to those from Mansfield and district who died on the Somme.

Together with colleagues I was invited to attend this very emotional 
ceremony.

All 157 names were read out and it soon became obvious that fathers and sons, brothers and friends 
were all among that list of heroes.

Hearing their names brought the futility of war to the forefront of my 
mind.

They said at the time the First World War was the “war to end all wars”, yet 21 years later they did it again.

Nottinghamshire Police tell us that figures for hate crime offences have shown an increase in Mansfield since the Brexit vote.

I would like everyone in Mansfield to support me in reassuring all people living or working in Mansfield and district that they are valued members of our community and that racist and hate crime will not be tolerated in any form.

Mansfield District Council has a hate crime policy which compels officers to investigate all instances of reported hate crime levelled at council employees .

It also ensures that the council delivers services irrespective of gender, age, race, ethnic origin, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

Nottinghamshire Police define hate crime as “any incident, which may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.”

It was with sorrow and sadness that I learnt of the recent death of fellow councillor Lee Probert.

My thoughts and those of the Independent coalition members are with Lee’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.