I visited a local TA Centre last year and across one wall of the drill hall were the names of all the local lads that were killed - all on the first day of the Somme - hundreds of them, almost the entire Battalion.
I read "McCrae's Battalion", about the 16th Battalion (the second of the service battalions, raised for War service, and not Regular or Territorial) of the Royal Scots; damn good book.
Anyway, what stuck in my mind was the story at the end where a lady in her 70s who helped the author because her father had served in the battalion, finally found out why on one day every year her father would shut himself in one of the rooms of the house for a few hours, and cry.
Reading about the first day of the Somme, and Scots Redoubt - truly moving.
As they neared the wood, between the roar of the explosions, behind the sickening gas-soaked mist, in the forefront of the noise that raged at them from every horizon, the small party of the West Yorkshire's became aware of another sound. It was like nothing they had ever heard before. Later - and for the rest of his life - Lieutenant Hornshaw was to remember it as a sound that chilled the blood: a nerve scraping noise like 'enourmous wet fingers screeching across an enormous pane of glass'. It was coming from the wounded, lying out in no man's Land. Some screaming, some muttering, some weeping with fear, some calling for help. shouting in delirium, groaning with pain the sounds of their distress had synthesized into one unearthly wail.
As midnight passed and the night of the first day of July turned towards the dawn of the second, as the gunfire died down, it seemed to fill the air.All along the front from the orchards of Gommecourt to the heights of Beaumont Hamel, from the shoulders of Thiepval to the valley beyond la Boisselle, it rose from the battlefield into the night like the keening of a thousand banshees.
This battle is often taken out of context-I recommend Mud, Blood and Poppycock by Gordon Corrigan-it shows that all the suffering and sacrifice was not in vain-the Somme offensive drew the Germans away from Verdun where the French were on the point of collapse. A good read. The Imperial War Museum also produce an excellent history of the Battle
For detail Middlebrook is still the best read for the first day. However, for wider context Gary Sheffield's Forgotten Victory or the aforementioned mud, blood and poppycock are good. Sheffield's Somme also good.