The campaign in the river Somme valley, thought up by Anglo / French planners was designed to draw the Germans south away from Verdun where the French were being mercilessly pounded on three sides. Nearly one and a half million French and German soldiers died here.
Originally planned for August 1916 but due to increased pressure from the French, brought forward to July 1st 1916. It was preceded by an eight day constant British Artillery barrage on the German lines. This was to destroy all signs of life and the immense barbed wire defences in and around the German trenches plus allowing the attacking British troops to "stroll across 'No man’s land'" and on to Germany.
Some Senior ranks even provided footballs to kick about as their men advanced towards the German lines.
On that fateful Morning at 07.39, after the barrage had lifted the officers blew their whistles sounding the attack. The troops climbed up ladders onto the parapet ready to 'stroll across' to the enemy lines. Many got no further than that..........the rest is history
The cost that day in lives has never been fully accounted. Out of nearly 58,000 casualties, 20,000 men died. The newly trained 'Kitcheners Army' was almost annihilated. These Volunteers or Pal’s Battalions, two years in the making, almost ceased to exist after this day.
The Leeds Pals suffered in their attack on Serre. Thirteen officers killed, with two more dying of wounds and 209 other ranks killed with a further 24 dying of wounds. The effect on the families and loved ones cannot be imagined. It was reported at the time that there was not a street in Leeds that didn't have at least one house with curtains drawn in mourning. The survivors of this and later battles came home after the war to receive no counselling or compensation. They just got on with their lives.
" Lions Led By Donkeys "