1 July 1916 was the first day of the Battle of the Somme. This was a terrible battle of horrifying magnitude. The battle lasted 141 days. One million people were casualties – over 300,000 of them died. On the first day of the battle nearly 20,000 British troops died! Such slaughter of human life is unimaginable. After 141 days the lines of battle had moved just 6 miles. It is good that we stop to remember the Battle of the Somme.
Canadian soldiers took part in this terrible battle. On 1 July 1916, the first day of the battle, the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out as they tried to advance at Beaumont Hamel – OK, I know, in 1916 Newfoundland was not part of Canada but still . . . “When roll call was taken, only 68 men answered their names – 324 were killed, or missing and presumed dead, and 386 were wounded.”
Want to read more? This is a link to an article from The Week which tells about the commemoration of the centenary and explains why the battle was significant. The article ends with this paragraph:
“The horror of the Somme also led to the end of the so-called ‘Pals Battalions’, set up to allow men from the same town to serve together. Amid the carnage it soon became clear that the idea risked devastating whole communities. In one notorious incident on the first day of the Somme, 585 men of the 700-strong Accrington Pals were killed or wounded in the space of 20 minutes. After the Somme, no more Pals Battalions were formed, while the existing battalions were gradually incorporated into other units.”
Here is a link to an excellent article about the Newfoundland Regiment and the Battle of the Somme.
Did you have an ancestor who was at the Battle of the Somme?