Macron, May commemorate soldiers killed in Battle of Somme during WWI

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French President Emmanuel Macron and visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday paid homage to soldiers who died in the Battle of Somme during World War I in northern France.

At the Thiepval memorial standing on high ground overlooking the Somme River, the two leaders deposited together a wreath of poppy and bleuet flowers, national emblems of remembrance in Britain and France.

The commemorations were a time to “reflect on our shared history, but also look ahead to our shared future”, said May at the memorial, which honors tens of thousands of soldiers killed in the Battle of Somme.

“We remember the heroes who lost their lives in the horror of the trenches. We will never forget their sacrifice,” she added.

Prior to the wreath laying ceremony, the two leaders held a private meeting and a working lunch in the town of Albert, in the heart of the Somme region. The French side refused to comment on whether they had talked Brexit, according to some British and French media.

The Battle of Somme took place between July 1 and Nov. 18, 1916, on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme. Designed to hasten a victory for the Allies, it was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front.

More than 3 million men fought in the battle and 1 million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

May’s visit is part of the commemoration of the First World War that has led Macron’s week-long tour through battlefields in France.

The French president will also welcome other world leaders this weekend, including U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, among others.

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