POIGNANT REUNION FOR BUTTE CROSSES

A trio of memorial crosses from a Somme battlefield were re-united at Durham Cathedral as part of a series of commemorative events held to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

All three wooden crosses were erected in 1917 on top of the Butte de Warlencourt in France as memorial to members of the 6th 8th and 9th Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry who died in battle there.

During the Battle of the Somme the Butte de Warlencourt became a much contested point of high ground and the DLI was heavily involved in the fighting there. Attempts to gain that higher ground ultimately took the lives of 273 members of the three DLI battalions.

After the battle had ended and the Butte (French for mound) passed into British hands the survivors erected three crosses to remember those who had died. In 1926 those three crosses were taken down from the Butte and placed separately in the parish churches of St. Andrew in Bishop Auckland, St. Mary and St. Cuthbert in Chester-le-Street and in Durham Cathedral, where it stands in the Durham Light Infantry Chapel. 

As the Cathedral prepared to welcome visitors and pilgrims from far and wide to remember those who fought in the Battle of the Somme, the two crosses from Chester-le-Street and Bishop Auckland also made the journey to the Cathedral where the three crosses once again stood together, this time in the South Transept of the Cathedral. The exhibition of the three crosses was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, who granted £9,900 for their display in the Cathedral.

A series of services and events were held at the Cathedral from Thursday 30 June through to Saturday 2 July 2016 to commemorate the Centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme and three original wooden crosses from the French battlefields were on display from 2 July, forming a unique exhibition and commemorating the bravery of those many young men from the region.