Memorial unveiled to Dorset World War I soldiers

A memorial to Dorset soldiers who died in World War I has been unveiled on the Somme battlefield in France.

Volunteers raised £23,000 for the 8ft (2.4m) Portland stone obelisk, the first memorial dedicated specifically to members of the Dorsetshire Regiment.

Former soldiers and descendants of World War I servicemen attended the ceremony near the village of Authuille.

Martin Willoughby of the Western Front Association said: "At last we have a fitting memorial to the men of Dorset."

Three hundred and fifty soldiers from the Dorsetshire Regiment, known as "the Dorsets", died on the first day the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916.

In all, more than 4,500 Dorset servicemen were killed in World War I campaigns in France, the Middle East and Mesopotamia. Another 16,000 survived, many with terrible injuries.

Mr Willoughby said: "There is a realisation that we are coming up to a whole series of World War I centenaries, and the Dorsetshire regiment was not recognised in one of the major theatre of operations."

The memorial was carved by sculptors Zoe Cull and Alex Evans at their workshop at Bockhampton, near Dorchester.

It bears the regimental and county crests as well as a quotation from Thomas Hardy: "Victory crowns the just."

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