07:30 July 1st 1916 was a defining moment of WWI. Kitchener’s volunteers had raced to the recruitment offices at the outbreak of war where the greatest fear was that they would be too late to experience the thrill of battle. The war was not ‘over by Christmas’ but deadlocked as both sides dug trenches to protect themselves from artillery and machine gun fire.
During 1915 both sides had to develop new weapons and tactics and 1916 dawned with the expectation that the major battle, planned for early summer, would see the allies break through on the Somme.
The volunteers took two years to be trained and were sent to the Somme with the expectation that they would break through the German lines. The artillery pounded the German front line and the Pals went over the top at 07:30 enthused by the idealism that had swept them to war. Things went so badly wrong. The German machine gun teams had been well dug in and their murderous fire saw 20,000 British soldiers killed or wounded during the first hour; by the end of the day 57,000 brave men lay in no mans land. “This army were two years in the making and ten minutes in the killing”.
Our tour of the Somme cover the events of July 1st and the aftermath.
Sites included in the tour:
- Places of personal pilgrimage
- Delville Wood
- The Lochnagar Crater
- The Devonshire Cemetery, Mansel Copse
- Newfoundland Park
- Serre Road Cemetery No 1
- The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing
- The Thiepval Visitors Centre
- The Ulster Tower
- The stories of Noel Hidgson, Capt Martin, George Nugent, Harry Farr, Wilfred Owen, The Ayres brothers, Billy McFadzean, Henry Webber.
For further details click here.