The Somme 1st July 1916

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by tropper66, Jun 30, 2011.

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  1. At 07.20 the Hawthorn ridge mine exploded and so started the worst day in the history of the British army. 20.000 dead and almost another 40.000 casualties

    Lest we forget
  2. For anybody up at the Somme tomorrow events are:RBL Service at Thiepval 1030hrs, Somme Association Commemorative Service at the Ulster Tower at 1430hrs, 1830hrs Beating the Retreat outside Albert Mairie (Town Hall) with the band of the Royal Irish Regiment.
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  3. My paternal grandfather was there, 2RF (a regular who joined-up in 1910).


    Here's an overlay of a still of that film of the mine detonation under Hawthorne Redoubt laid-over the location as it is today.

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  4. 1st July was only the start of it, there were battles until November RIP
  5. HHH

    HHH LE

    A bloody day and unfortunately just one of many such days.

  6. I don't want to forget, and I am very aware of the sacrifices made. But I do think it is time to question the premises on which the 1st Day of the Somme has become enshrined as the second national day of Remembrance. The 1st of July is a great commorative occasion from the 07.30 Lochnargar Crater affaior through to the Canadians in the afternoon and the Legion dinner.

    However, I would like to question why we commemorate the 1st Day of the Somme purely as being a disaster? The whole matter is being treated as if it were a national tragedy out of context with the rest of the campaign.

    I don't think 1st of July 1916 was the worst day in the history of the British Military History. The surrender of Singapore on 15 February 1942 cost Britain 80,000 casualties in a humiliating surrender which signalled the end of the British Empire in the Far East. The fatality rate of 27% among the PoW condemned more to die than were killed 1st July 1916. All the remainder suffered injuries or sickness of some sort.

    As Brits we love a good disaster. I can understand why amongst the general public it is regarded in such terms. However, the ARRSE history forum is populated by people with deeper knowledge than Joe Public. It seems a pity that the 1st of July is rarely considered except in terms of its cost to the British Army. The 1st Day of the Somme was a painful and very costly day. But its losses were only a fraction of the total over the next 143 days. It wasn't even a complete failure. From the German point of view the 1st day was a disaster. The allies had achieved a break in on the southern third of the attack frontage. Yet how much of the commemoration of the Somme will visit anywhere south of Lochnagar Crater?

    There is a comparison with the Red Army and the capture of Berlin. The Red army had a rotten start to the battle incurring heavy casualties on the Seelow Heights. But no one would consider the Seelow heights in isolation from the fall of Berlin. )Furthermore, over the 15 days between 16 April and 1 May the Soviets lost 80k dead and 280k wounded or sick. That is a 1st day of the Somme every four days. It is a daily loss rate approaching nine time higher than that of the British on the Somme, who lost 400k casualties over 143 days.

    Just a thought.
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  7. My Great Uncle won a MC and bar on the Somme with the Royal Irish Rifles
  8. WWI makes Afghanistan look like a playground fight between kids. I think it's even impossible for those of us who have been in contact to visualise what they went through. Just read 'Tommy' by Richard Holmes and is by far the most informative book I've read on the war.
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  9. Aye - and by this time on the night before, many units were already well into a heavily-laden 9(+) hour night approach march via the communication trenches, to reach their Start Line positions, just forward of the front line trenches.

    Bless 'em all.
  10. Pararegtom

    Pararegtom LE Book Reviewer

    Totally agree Fally, My Grandfather on my mothers side fought with the 51st Highland Div The Seaforths.At Ypres then the Somme picture to follow Granddad on Fathers side done Gallipoli. Nothing can compere to the slaughter. Rest in Peace
    51st (Highland) Division (World War I) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Attached Files:

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  11. My Grandfather on July 1st was with the Manchester pals and took part in the successful attack on Montauban. Following research through the Manchester Pals and the First WW forums I was able to track his way through the war with the Pals. Luckily he survived and I remember as a 14 year old asking him about the war and he always just sort of clouded over in his eyes and never talked about it much. I think it is brilliant that the internet has enabled us to appreciate the real hell these guys went through. Grandad you are my hero.
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  12. My Grandfather was a Stretcher Bearer with 110th Fld Amb 36th (Ulster) Div, my Dad always said that he never spoke about his experiences during WWI.
  13. My grandfather was one of the Barnsley Pals (West Yorks and Lancs). He was shot through the thigh somewhere near Gommecourt, or Serre, I think, on July 1st. They gave him the piece of thigh bone they removed as a souvenir in a presentation case.

    He was actually in a reserved occupation; a coal miner just south of Barnsley (Hoyland Common). But he volunteered anyway because he wanted a taste of the 'glory'.
  14. Same with me, my paternal grandfather was a Cpl in the Gordons. With the regiment 1915 til the armistice.

    Lucky lucky bastard.
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  15. A debt that we who are left can never repay. All we can give them is out eternal gratitude and remembrance. This goes for all those who have fought and died in service of our country. RIP