The Somme - Dawn 01 July 1916

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Litotes, Jun 30, 2007.

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  1. Ninety one years ago, the British trenches on the Somme were full of soldiers trying to get some sleep before "the Big Push".

    The British Army suffered its worst ever number of casualties on 01 July 1916. Some villages and some families never recovered from losing "the flower of their menfolk".

    In Memoriam

  2. Agreed. I think tonight we should all raise a glass to those poor souls.
  3. With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
    England mourns for her dead across the sea.
    Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
    Fallen in the cause of the free.

    Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
    Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
    There is music in the midst of desolation
    And a glory that shines upon our tears.

    They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
    Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
    They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
    They fell with their faces to the foe.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

    They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
    They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
    They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
    They sleep beyond England's foam.

    But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
    Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
    To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
    As the stars are known to the Night;

    As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
    Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
    As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
    To the end, to the end, they remain.

    Laurence Binyon - 1914
  4. Am reminded of the song

    The flowers of the forest.

    Faugh a Ballagh
  5. Indeed, Litotes. I sit here attempting to put myself there, as was this moment 91 years ago, and failing. It's incomprehensible. My glass is raised and my thoughts with those brave souls.

    My Great Great Uncle was among them. He survived almost 3 months in that hell before he was killed. Upon visiting his nme etched on one of the pillars at Thiepval the dense of proportion of wasted life and the profoudly moving atmosphere of the Somme is forever within me.

    For my Gt Gt Uncle James and all those who died alongside him:

    If I should die, think only this of me:
    That there's some corner of a foreign field
    That is for ever England. There shall be
    In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
    A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
    Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
    A body of England's, breathing English air,
    Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

    And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
    A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
    Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
    Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
    And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

    Rupert Brooke
  6. After walking the Somme Battlefields, it must be one of the saddest places ive been to, the lists of the missing, the thought that those now peaceful fields contained thousands of the missing.

    The minds of the men not in the first wave but those of the second and third waves who walked over what was descibed as hells abattoir, a drink to them, and they will not be forgotten
  7. I shall drink to their memory tonight and thank them for the sacrifice that they made.
    Having done many battlefield tours I must say that the Somme is probably one of the most sad and solemn places that I've ever visited. The silence is a living memorial to the pain that others suffered.

  8. My great uncle was killed on 1/7/16 serving with 1st South Staffs. He is remembered on the Thiepval memorial and in the pub this evening.
  9. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    1st July 1916- the most poignant date I know in British Army history.

    A glass of the Tawny will be raised to the fallen-not forgotten.

    Captain John Leslie Green VC Royal Army Medical Corps attached to 1st/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters at Gommecourt on 1st July 1916 although wounded he went to the assistance of an officer caught up on the enemy's wire and in so doing he was himself killed.

    Capt Green is buried in Foncquevillers, the cemetery is bordered by a low stone wall all around, with a wooden gate at the entrance. In Plot 1, Row L are the headstones marking what is in effect a mass grave of men who died on the 1st of July, 1916. Many of the headstones have three names inscribed.

    Foncquevillers is a village which was just behind the British front lines in the 1916 battles. Foncquevillers Military Cemetery is to the north-west of the village, and was originally begun by the French (when they held this part of the line). When the British took over this sector, they continued to use it, with many burials dating from July 1916, the early Somme offensives.

    In Arduis Fidelis.
  10. The Devonshires held this trench and The Devonshires hold it still, the Company were buried in the front line trench that they left to be mown down on the 1st July.
  11. We were there with about a thousand visitors. The Somme is very moving.

    The toast: "Gentlemen: When the barrage lifts"
  12. A very moving song, Last 2 verses bring a lump to my throat,
    RIP, We shall remember them
  13. 163 men of the 8th and 9th Devons - particularly A coy of the 8th lie there.
  14. You might be interested to know a bit more about our role in the annual commemoration of start of the Battle of the Somme at Thiepval on 1st July.

    Piers Storie-Pugh, the Head of Remembrance Travel (and Poppy Travel) sent the following to Legion members.

  15. I believe the final number of British casualties was in the order of 420000. That is a frightening and sobering thought. Makes me feel very humble.