SOMBRE services were held in Otley last week to remember those who died in the Battle of the Somme.

A bugler played during a ceremony held in the Memorial Garden at 11am on Friday – the date when the infamous First World War battle began.

The service was overseen by Father Lawrie Hulme from Our Lady and All Saints Church, and attended by many members of the public and guests, including Otley Mayor Councillor Ian Jackson (Lib Dem, Ashfield).

Cllr Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon), who was among the guests, said: "The Battle of the Somme came to symbolise the tragic futility of war.

"The Pals, as they were known, were family, friends, neighbours and colleagues doing their bit for 'King and Country'.

"Climbing a fire step into a hail of mechanised slaughter resulted in more than 2,000 young men from Leeds and Bradford losing their lives by lunchtime alone and, in time, more than 400,000 lost their lives in the 141 days the battle raged.

"Lest we forget."

The bells tolled for five minutes at 7.30am at Otley All Saints Parish Church, and a short service was led by The Rev Graham Buttanshaw.

He said: "I was very pleased we had between 30 and 35 people at our service of prayer and reflection to mark the start of the battle of the Somme.

"It was a deeply moving experience sitting quietly in the church as the bell tolled for five minutes. A short film and extract from a soldier's diary helped us engage with the unspeakable horrors of the Somme and reflect, sadly, on different but equally unspeakable horrors being experienced by many in the conflicts of our own time.

"It was amazing to find out some of the people's connections – one lady left Wakefield at 5am to be there to remember her great uncle, Harry Cawood from Otley, who died in the battle. He was one of 11 Otley folk we know of who died at the Somme.

"Another lady from Otley, Betty Watson, told us her father fought in the battle but survived, while Rosemary Hartley brought her grandfather, William Weller's, grave medal. He died on the first day – one of the 72,000 names engraved on the Thiepval memorial."

The Otley branch of the Royal British Legion marked the occasion by holding a fundraising stall at the Buttercross on Friday in aid of the charity's care home at Ripon, Lister House.