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American soldier Harry Butters killed in the Battle of the Somme

American soldier Harry Butters killed in the Battle of the Somme


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On August 31, 1916, Harry Butters, an American soldier serving in the British army during World War I, is killed by a German shell during the Battle of the Somme, while fighting to secure the town of Guillemont, France.

The son of a prominent San Francisco industrialist, Butters was raised partially in England and schooled there at Beaumont College, a Jesuit academy in Old Windsor. He later attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, before inheriting his father’s fortune upon the latter’s death in 1906 and moving back to California, where he worked briefly for Standard Oil and purchased his own ranch. When World War I broke out in the summer of 1914, Butters rallied to the Allied cause and decided to join the British army. Through his old school connections in England, he received a commission in the Royal Artillery, 24th Division, 107th Brigade in April 1915. In September, Butters traveled to France with his comrades, where he took part in the ill-executed British attack during the Battle of Loos later that month.

READ MORE: Why Was the Battle of the Somme So Deadly?

“I find myself a soldier among millions of others in the great allied armies fighting for all I believe right and civilized and humane against a power which is evil and threatens the existence of all the rights we prize and the freedom we enjoy,” Butters wrote home on October 5, 1915, describing his experiences on the battlefield at Loos. “It may seem to you that for me this is all quite uncalled for, that it can only mean either the supreme sacrifice for nothing or at best some of the best years of my life wasted; but I tell you that I am not only willing to give my life to this enterprise (for that is comparatively easy except when I think of you), but that I firmly believe—if I live through it to spend a useful lifetime with you—that never will I have the opportunity to gain so much honorable advancement for my own soul, or to do so much for the cause of the world’s progress, as I am here daily…I think less of myself than I did, less of the heights of personal success I aspired to climb, and more of the service that each of us must render in payment for the right to live and by virtue of which only we can progress.”

Butters was on the front lines near the Belgian village of Ploegsteert in April 1916 when he met Winston Churchill; Churchill was serving as a battalion commander on the Western Front after leaving the British Admiralty in the wake of the disastrous Allied operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula the previous year. Impressed by the young American volunteering in service to England—”I just lied to ‘em and said I was British born,” Butters told Churchill, explaining his commission in the Royal Artillery—Churchill invited Butters to dine with him in his bunker, where the two men ate and drank champagne on the evening of April 11. After suffering from shell shock—the newly diagnosed psychological trauma of battle—Butters was sent on leave in June. Although Churchill, then back in London, urged Butters to take his time before returning to service, he went back to the Western Front on July 2, one day after the Allies launched the epic Battle of the Somme.

On August 31, 1916, Butters and his unit were at the Somme, firing on Trones Woods, outside Guillemont, when his gun received a direct German hit during a massive barrage; he and all the members of his battery were killed. “I don’t exaggerate when I say nearly 100,000 shells dropped that day in an area of about 800 square yards,” wrote Reverend A. Caseby in his diary entry recounting Butters’ death. Butters was buried in the Commonwealth Graves Commission Cemetery at Meulte, a little village south of Albert, France. In accordance with a request he made in late August to a British chaplain, his gravestone reads simply “An American Citizen.”

Churchill himself wrote a memorial to Butters in the London Observer: “He had seen much service on the front line, including the battle of Loos, and came through unscathed until in June last a bouquet of shells destroyed his observation post and stunned him.He could be induced to take only a week’s rest before he was back at the front, disdainful as ever of the continual threats of death.And thus, quite simply, he met his fate.He was one of the brightest, cheeriest boys I have ever known, and always the life and soul of the mess.We realize his nobility in coming to the help of another country entirely of his own free will, and understand what a big heart he had.”


The Meuse-Argonne Offensive

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I. It was one of the attacks that brought an end to the War and was fought from September 26 – November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operations of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, with over a million American soldiers participating. It was also the deadliest campaign in American history, resulting in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action (KIA) and over 120,000 total casualties. Indeed, the number of graves in the American military cemetery at Romagne is far larger than those in the more commonly known site at Omaha Beach in Normandy.

The holdings of the National Archives (NARA) related to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and surrounding events are extensive. Several units of the Archives hold relevant records in a variety of media. This page identifies many of those records and provides access information, including to records described in the National Archives Catalog.


Battle of the Somme: Seven quotes and poems to commemorate 104 years!

The Battle of the Somme started on the 1st July 1916, and was a joint operation between French and British allied forces to achieve victory over the Germans on the Western Front.

More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it not only the bloodiest battle of World War One but in human history. It was named so because it took place on both sides of the River Somme in France.

Here are seven famous quotes and poems to help you commemorate the start of the famous battle.

‘For the Fallen’ poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

Perhaps the most famous poem that is often quoted by people when remembering the Battle of the Somme is ‘For The Fallen’, but most people just remember it for the famous line: ‘At the going down of the sun”.

The famous verse goes like this:

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.

Quote from a German Soldier

This quote comes from an unnamed German Soldier during the Battle of the Somme:

“The tragedy of the Somme battle was that the best soldiers, the stoutest-hearted men were lost their numbers were replaceable, their spiritual worth never could be.”

On this day 20,000 British troops were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and 57,500 injured

Never forget their sacrifice to defend us from tyranny pic.twitter.com/CYUpwaQyPK

— Nick Donnelly (@ProtecttheFaith) July 1, 2020

‘On Somme’ poem by Ivor Gurney

Another famous Somme poem is ‘On Somme’ by Ivor Gurney, an accomplished musician, composer and poet who is known so have written hundreds of poems and songs throughout the war.

Many people often wrote his famous poem which starts like this:

Suddenly into the still air burst thudding
And thudding, and cold fear possessed me all,
On the gray slopes there, where Winter in sullen brooding
Hung between height and depth of ugly fall

Quote by A.D. Gristwood

A.D. Gristwood is an author who wrote the famous novel ‘The Coward’, published in 1927 and based around The Somme.

“Before the world grew mad, the Somme was a placid stream of Picardy, flowing gently through a broad and winding valley northwards to the English Channel. It watered a country of simple beauty. . . Then came the pestilence.”

OTD: 102 years ago the battle of the Somme began. An estimated 1 million me were killed or wounded.

The British Army alone suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 killed in action on the 1st day. pic.twitter.com/2Lv6BgTea5

— Ian S (@iannlou) July 1, 2020

Quote by A.P. Herbert

Alan Patrick Herbert was an English humorist, novelist, playwright and law reform activist as well as an Independent Member of Parliament for Oxford University. He famously said:

“Every Englishman has a picture of the Somme in his mind, and I will not try to enlarge it.”

‘I have a rendezvous with Death’ poem by Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger is an American poet who volunteered to fight for the French Foreign Legion in 1914 and died at the Battle of the Somme.

The first verse goes like this:

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air

French troops moving up to the front lines on the Somme, July 1916. #WW1 #rememberthefrenchtoo pic.twitter.com/DHDfWFGLVm

— Jesse Alexander (@jesse_history) July 1, 2020

Quote by Harry Leedham

“It seemed all over, hardly 20 minutes from the start. It was a strong point and still was, even with reinforcements it would be hopeless, with those sodding machine guns still in action. Behind we could see where we started from, in front, the Jerry lines on slightly rising ground.”

He then continues: “We could see the shape of the Quadrilateral, like a squashed diamond, behind the bank. Judging by the damned chatter when we were going over, a hidden machine gun at every point. Quiet enough now, they had already done all the damage, not giving their position away now, leaving the Jerries in the line to do the odd firing.”


American soldier Harry Butters killed in the Battle of the Somme - Aug 31, 1916 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

On this day in 1916, Harry Butters, an American soldier serving in the British army during World War I, is killed by a German shell during the Battle of the Somme, while fighting to secure the town of Guillemont, France.

The son of a prominent San Francisco industrialist, Butters was raised partially in England and schooled there at Beaumont College, a Jesuit academy in Old Windsor. He later attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, before inheriting his father’s fortune upon the latter’s death in 1906 and moving back to California, where he worked briefly for Standard Oil and purchased his own ranch. When World War I broke out in the summer of 1914, Butters rallied to the Allied cause and decided to join the British army. Through his old school connections in England, he received a commission in the Royal Artillery, 24th Division, 107th Brigade in April 1915. In September, Butters traveled to France with his comrades, where he took part in the ill-executed British attack during the Battle of Loos later that month.

“I find myself a soldier among millions of others in the great allied armies fighting for all I believe right and civilized and humane against a power which is evil and threatens the existence of all the rights we prize and the freedom we enjoy,” Butters wrote home on October 5, 1915, describing his experiences on the battlefield at Loos. “It may seem to you that for me this is all quite uncalled for, that it can only mean either the supreme sacrifice for nothing or at best some of the best years of my life wasted but I tell you that I am not only willing to give my life to this enterprise (for that is comparatively easy except when I think of you), but that I firmly believe—if I live through it to spend a useful lifetime with you—that never will I have the opportunity to gain so much honorable advancement for my own soul, or to do so much for the cause of the world’s progress, as I am here daily…I think less of myself than I did, less of the heights of personal success I aspired to climb, and more of the service that each of us must render in payment for the right to live and by virtue of which only we can progress.”

Butters was on the front lines near the Belgian village of Ploegsteert in April 1916 when he met Winston Churchill Churchill was serving as a battalion commander on the Western Front after leaving the British Admiralty in the wake of the disastrous Allied operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula the previous year. Impressed by the young American volunteering in service to England—”I just lied to ‘em and said I was British born,” Butters told Churchill, explaining his commission in the Royal Artillery—Churchill invited Butters to dine with him in his bunker, where the two men ate and drank champagne on the evening of April 11. After suffering from shell shock—the newly diagnosed psychological trauma of battle—Butters was sent on leave in June. Although Churchill, then back in London, urged Butters to take his time before returning to service, he went back to the Western Front on July 2, one day after the Allies launched the epic Battle of the Somme.

On August 31, 1916, Butters and his unit were at the Somme, firing on Trones Woods, outside Guillemont, when his gun received a direct German hit during a massive barrage he and all the members of his battery were killed. “I don’t exaggerate when I say nearly 100,000 shells dropped that day in an area of about 800 square yards,” wrote Reverend A. Caseby in his diary entry recounting Butters’ death. Butters was buried in the Commonwealth Graves Commission Cemetery at Meulte, a little village south of Albert, France. In accordance with a request he made in late August to a British chaplain, his gravestone reads simply “An American Citizen.”


Contents

The logistic prelude to the Meuse attack was planned by then U.S. Colonel George Marshall who managed to move American units to the front after the Battle of Saint-Mihiel (Saint-Mihiel is a town on the river Meuse, the most important water obstacle on the Western Front). [7] The September/October Allied breakthroughs (north, center, and east) across the length of the Front line – including the Battle of the Argonne Forest – are now lumped together as part of what is generally remembered as the Grand Offensive (also known as the Hundred Days Offensive) by the Allies on the Western Front. The Meuse–Argonne offensive also involved troops from France, while the rest of the Allies, including France, Britain and its dominion and imperial armies (mainly Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and Belgium contributed to major battles in more North-Western sectors of the western front, including the Hindenburg line.

After the main 1918 German offensive that began well for them but ended with the disaster of Reims in front of the French army and at Amiens to British empire forces, The French and British armies launched "The Grand Offensive" or the "100 days offensive", systematically pushing back a German army whose efficiency was decreasing rapidly. British, French, and Belgian advances in the north-western sectors of the front, along with the French–American advances around the Argonne forest, is in turn credited for leading directly to the Armistice of November 11, 1918.

On September 26, the Americans began their strike north toward Sedan. The next day, British and Belgian divisions drove toward Ghent (Belgium). British and French armies attacked across northern France on September 28. The scale of the overall offensive, bolstered by the fresh and eager but largely untried and inexperienced U.S. troops, signaled renewed vigor among the Allies and sharply dimmed German hopes for victory.

The Meuse–Argonne battle was the largest frontline commitment of troops by the U.S. Army in World War I, and also its deadliest. Command was coordinated, with some U.S. troops (e.g. the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Division and the 93rd Division) attached and serving under French command (e.g. XVII Corps during the second phase).

Opposing forces Edit

The American forces initially consisted of 15 divisions of the U.S. First Army commanded by General John J. Pershing until October 16 and then by Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett. [8] The logistics were planned and directed by then Colonel George C. Marshall. The French forces next to them consisted of 31 divisions, including the Fourth Army (under Henri Gouraud) and the Fifth Army (under Henri Mathias Berthelot). [9] The U.S. divisions of the AEF were oversized (12 battalions per division versus the French-British-German nine battalions per division), being up to twice the size of other Allies' battle-depleted divisions upon arrival, but the French and other Allied divisions had been partly replenished prior to the Grand Offensive, so both the U.S. and French contributions in troops were considerable. All of the heavy equipment (tanks, artillery, and aircraft) was provided by the Allies (mainly by the French Army). For the Meuse–Argonne front alone, this represented 2,780 artillery pieces, 380 tanks, and 840 planes.

Concerning armored support, the 35th Division was completed by the 1st Tank Brigade (under George S. Patton) with 127 American-crewed Renault FT light tank and 28 French-crewed Schneider medium tanks. The 3d US Tank brigade with 250 French-crewed tank was also involved supporting the V Corps. The 37th and 79th Division were augmented with a French tank regiment (Renault FT light tank) and 2 groups of medium tank (St-Chamond). The 91st Division was augmented with a equivalent force (1 light tank regiment and 2 groups medium tank).

As the battle progressed, both the Americans and the French brought in reinforcements. Eventually, 22 American divisions participated in the battle at one time or another, representing two full field armies. [10] Other French forces involved included the 2nd Colonial Corps, under Henri Claudel, which had also fought alongside the AEF at the Battle of Saint-Mihiel earlier in September 1918.

The opposing forces were wholly German. During this period of the war, German divisions procured only 50 percent or less of their initial strength. The 117th Division, which opposed the U.S. 79th Division during the offensive's first phase, had only 3,300 men in its ranks. Morale varied among German units. For example, divisions that served on the Eastern front had high morale, while conversely divisions that had been on the Western front had poor morale. Resistance grew to approximately 200,000–450,000 German troops from the Fifth Army of Group Gallwitz commanded by General Georg von der Marwitz. The Americans estimated that they opposed parts of 44 German divisions overall, though many fewer at any one time.

Objective Edit

The Allied objective was the capture of the railway hub at Sedan that would break the railway network supporting the German Army in France and Flanders.

First phase (September 26 – October 4, 1918) Edit

"During the three hours preceding H hour, the Allies expended more ammunition than both sides managed to fire throughout the four years of the [American] Civil War. The cost was later calculated to have been $180 million, or $1 million per minute." [11] The American attack began at 05:30 on September 26 with mixed results. The V and III Corps met most of their objectives, but the 79th Division failed to capture Montfaucon, the 28th "Keystone" Division's attack virtually ground to a halt due to formidable German resistance, and the 91st "Wild West" Division was compelled to evacuate the village of Épinonville though it advanced 8 km (5.0 mi). The inexperienced 37th "Buckeye" Division failed to capture Montfaucon d'Argonne.

The subsequent day, September 27 most of the 1st Army failed to make any gains. The 79th Division finally captured Montfaucon and the 35th "Santa Fe" Division captured the village of Baulny, Hill 218, and Charpentry, placing the division forward of adjacent units. On September 29, six extra German divisions were deployed to oppose the American attack, with the 5th Guards and 52nd Division counterattacking the 35th Division, which had run out of food and ammunition during the attack. The Germans initially made significant gains, but were barely repulsed by the 35th Division's 110th Engineers, 128th Machine Gun Battalion, and Harry Truman's Battery D, 129th Field Artillery. In the words of Pershing, "We were no longer engaged in a maneuver for the pinching out of a salient, but were necessarily committed, generally speaking, to a direct frontal attack against strong, hostile positions fully manned by a determined enemy." [12]

The German counterattack had shattered so much of the 35th Division—a poorly led division, most of whose key leaders had been replaced shortly before the attack, made up of National Guard units from Missouri and Kansas—that it had to be relieved early, though remnants of the division subsequently reentered the battle. [13] [14] Part of the adjacent French attack met temporary confusion when one of its generals died. Nevertheless, it was able to advance 15 km (9 mi), penetrating deeply into the German lines, especially around Somme-Py (the Battle of Somme-Py (French: Bataille de Somme-Py)) and northwest of Reims (the Battle of Saint-Thierry (French: Bataille de Saint-Thierry)). [9] The initial progress of the French forces was thus faster than the 3 to 8 km (2 to 5 mi) gained by the adjacent American units, though the French units were fighting in a more open terrain, which is an easier terrain from which to attack. [3]


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The 56-year-old added: 'I got goosebumps reading it. I just felt really emotional. I cried reading the last page. But I'm very proud that we have it and am happy for others to be able to see it.'

While Pte Chambers' gravestone records his age as 19, the soldier was just 16 when he signed up to the army and 17 when he died fighting with the 36th Ulster Division, painstaking research by local woman Hilary Singleton uncovered.

The solicitor checked census records and looked into the history of what was happening in France on the dates of each of the diary entries.

Mrs Singleton, who has written a play telling the story of Pte Chambers and the other young men from the village of Glenanne who fought and died at the Somme.

She said 'It actually felt incredible to hold a diary that a soldier had in his breast pocket 100 years ago. It's in excellent condition.'

Detailing his training and preparations for battle, Pte Chambers' diary describes noisy shellfire, and marks out one specific bombardment by the British of the German front line as 'like hell let loose'.

His final diary entry is brief, but particularly haunting as it is the only one made by the young soldier at the beginning of a day.

Helen McComb, Tommy's great niece, hold the box in which she was storing the 100-year-old diary. Pictured left is local researcher Eric Nesbitt in the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum in Armagh

EXTRACTS FROM PRIVATE THOMAS CHAMBERS' WAR DIARY

On April 3, a few days after arriving in France Pte Chambers told of the routine he and the other soldiers settled in to.

'Revolly (sic) blew 5.30. Breakfast 6.30. Parade 7.45, then marched to the training camp about twelve miles away carrying our dinner, sometimes two hard cakes, a piece of cheese and tea. We returned to the base at 4.30 every evening and had dinner which was very little.'

The young solider described the noise and drama of war, but was matter-of-fact in his reaction.

On April 22 he wrote: 'Guard. At 9 o'clock at night our artillery started to bombard the German front line and it was just like Hell let loose. Shells bursting round me and machine gun fire as it fell my luck for being on sentry duty when they started. I was nervous for a while but I came round.'

A week later on April 30 Pte Chambers told how he went to a service conducted by Rev Hallyhan and took holy communion under shellfire.

A lengthy German bombardment into the early hours of the morning of May 7 killed Pte Chambers' Company Sergeant.

'We all had to man the trench and commence rapid fire. The shells were flying every way. It was that heavy that you could not have heard yourself speak.'

On June 26, just days before his death, Pte Chambers wrote about a preliminary bombardment of the German front line.

'Had to retire twice under very heavy shell fire. All having very narrow escapes.'

In his last letter home, dated June 30, Pte Chambers told his family he was in 'very fair form' and promised to 'write soon again'.

His final diary entry reads: 'Left for trenches at 2am 1st July'.

His short diary, around 16 pages and written mostly in pencil, gives an insight into the preparations for a battle the British were hopeful they could win, but which resulted in a huge loss of life

He writes simply: 'Left for trenches at 2am 1st July.'

Ms Singleton, who transcribed the passages as part of her research, said: 'There's something completely unique about that because every other entry he wrote at the end of the day. This entry was looking forward to what was about to happen.

'He's leaving for the trenches. Why did he write it like that? I think he wrote it that way because he thought it was likely that he was going to be killed. He had that level of realisation.'

In the weeks before Pte Chambers and his comrades would go over the top of their trenches to face a hail of German fire the men played sport - something Sergeant Joseph Lowry's grandson Colin said was particularly poignant to read.

Sergeant Lowry, also from Glenanne, was wounded in the shoulder on the first day of battle, but was one of the lucky ones who survived.

On returning home to a lack of employment the soldier, who was awarded the Military Cross, became somewhat disillusioned and threw a number of his much-cherished war medals into a nearby lake, his grandson said.

After reading Pte Chambers' diary Mr Lowry, 57, whose grandfather is mentioned by Tommy as having been with him at a football match in early June, said: 'He (Tommy) really was only just a boy - they all were.

'It really brings it all home. They were playing a football match, all comrades, and in a matter of days they had died. It's really sad. And for the community - it's only a small village - it would have been a big loss to their village at that time.'

The diary will go on display at the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum in Armagh as part of their Somme exhibition.

'KISSES TO THE CATS AND CHICKENS': BOY SOLDIER'S LETTER EMERGES

The sole original letter written by hero boy soldier Jack Cornwell is to go on display in London

A letter written by Jack Cornwell, a soldier who lied about his age, is being put on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Until now, Cornwell had been regarded as something of a war-time mystery - a 15-year-old who was desperate to serve for his country said he was two years older to serve in the navy.

A letter detailing the boy behind the heroic tale has now emerged, 100 years after his death in the Battle of Jutland.

Cornwell received a Victoria Cross posthumously for staying with his gun while his ship HMS Chester was attacked by German cruisers.

The letter is, the Sunday Times reported, the only surviving original piece of correspondence written by the young east Londoner.

It is addressed to his mother and written during his basic training in Devonport.

'Tell Lily [his sister] that I am sorry she could not get in school' He also wrote that he 'never got the rats' about not getting into the school he wanted to go to - so nor should she.

He added that he hoped his brother would not be conscripted and signs the letter off with kisses to the cats and chickens.

'Chickens xxxxxx Cats xxx Quite a lot of kisses to give away.'

Anthony Richards, head of documents and sound at the War Museum told the Sunday Times that Cornwell 'became a national hero but the letter was written by a child.'


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Mr Bambrough, an engineer at Nissan, said: 'My mother, Val, has done a lot of research on our family, through an ancestry website.

'When I got an email from people on the ancestry website telling me about an article, I thought it was a scam at first, but I went online and found it on the Northern Echo website and saw it was true.

'Mary Fortune (nee Bambrough) was my great-grandfather's sister. She had a daughter called Marjorie, who is referred to in the letter as the baby. She wasn't even a year old when her dad died.

'Marjorie was looked after by neighbour's later in her life and when she died in 2003, they disposed of all her possessions.

'My great-aunt Marjorie was really disappointed to hear her personal things were gone.'

A picture believed to be of Mary Fortune and her brother John Bambrough

A letter from King George V confirming that George Ernest had been killed in action

He added: 'Learning of these letters is quite emotional. Two of Mary's brothers were killed within a day of each other in the previous year.

'Edward Watson Bambrough died at Ypres on August 9, 1915 and Charles William Bambrough died on August 10, 1915 at Gallipoli. And then for her husband to be killed in action on the Somme on October 7, 1916.'

Mr Bambrough said he had been in contact with Sue Ryder and was told he could get the letters after lockdown.

He said: 'We are delighted. This this will be an important addition to the family archive. We want to leave a family tree for future generations and populate it with as much material as we can.'

Battle of the Somme: One of the deadliest fights in history

Lasting 141 days, the Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest battle of the First World War.

The British suffered 420,000 casualties, including 125,000 deaths, during the intense fighting. Another 200,000 French troops and 500,000 Germans were either killed or wounded in action.

It is estimated 24,000 Canadian and 23,000 Australian servicemen also fell in the four-month fight.

A British soldier keeps watch over No Man's Land as his comrades sleep during the Battle of the Somme in 1916

The British and French joined forces to fight the Germans on a 15-mile-long front, with more than a million-people killed or injured on both sides.

The Battle started on the July 1, 1916, and lasted until November 19, 1916. The British managed to advance seven-miles but failed to break the German defence.

On the first day alone, 19,240 British soldiers were killed after 'going over the top' and more than 38,000 were wounded.

But on the last day of the battle, the 51st Highland Division took Beaumont Hamel and captured 7,000 German prisoners.

The plan was for a 'Big Push' to relieve the French forces, who were besieged further south at Verdun, and break through German lines.

Although it did take pressure off Verdun it failed to provide a breakthrough and the war dragged on for another two years.


Bradford and the Battle of the Somme, 1st of July 1916

As the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme nears, our Assistant Curator, Lizzie Labres agreed to write a blog post about how it affected the men of Bradford who were involved. She writes:

As we approach the centenary of the Battle of the Somme it seemed fitting to write a blog about the men of Bradford who fought in the battle. The 1914 German invasion left large areas of France and Belgium under German control. The Battle of the Somme was the main offensive of 1916, were the French and British Armies met, north of the River Somme. Losses at the Battle of Verdun, at the beginning of 1916, put General Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commander in Chief, under huge pressure to attack the German Army without delay. The aims of the campaign were to relieve the French Army at Verdun and weaken the advancing German forces.

During the Battle of the Somme men from Bradford fought at Serre, Thiepval and Fricourt north of the River Somme. 1,770 Bradford men are believed to have been killed or injured in the first few hours of the battle. In total over 1 million British, French and Germen soldiers were wounded or killed during the campaign. Of all the casualties ½ of the dead were under 22 and around 20% of casualties were under age when they joined up.

In 1914 Britain was the only European power that relied on a volunteer army, made up of the National Reserves and the Territorial Forces. On the 5th of August 1914 Lord Kitchener was appointed the Secretary of State for War. On the 7th of August 1914 he initiated a volunteer recruitment drive which saw 100,000 men enlist in 2 weeks. By mid September 1914 nearly 480,000 men had volunteered. By December 1915 around 2,500,000 men had volunteered to fight for Britain.

Bradford Pals battalion, outside Cartwright Hall, 1914

Bradford Park Avenue football player, Donald Bell was one of the men who joined at the start of the war. Bell enlisted in the 9th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, also known as the Green Howards, in November 1914. In July 1916, at the Battle of the Somme, the Battalion was placed in reserve near the town of Albert. On the 5th of July 1916 the Battalion was ordered to attack the German Horseshoe trench, coming under heavy machine gun fire. Donald Bell was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during this attack. He is the only professional football player to be awarded the VC.

In Bradford, men formed their own Citizen’s Army League and by September 1914 1000 men had enlisted and formed the new 16th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment the 1st Bradford Pals Battalion. By February 1915 a further 1000 men had enlisted. They formed the 18th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment the 2nd Bradford Pals Battalion.

Bradford Pal’s Camp

The 1st Battalion of Bradford Pals was the lead Battalion at the fortified town of Serre. By the end of the first day 527 men were killed or wounded. The 2nd Battalion of Bradford Pals were involved in a trench raid on the evening before the battle. In this raid 512 men were killed or wounded. In the first two days of the Somme the Bradford Pals Battalions saw casualties of 1039 men, out of an initial 2000 men who had joined the battalions.

Bradford Pals – The Prince of Wales Own West Yorkshire Regiment

At the outbreak of war Bradford already had its own Territorial Army regiments. The 1/6th Battalion of The Prince of Wales Own West Yorkshire Regiment was formed in 1908 and was based at Belle Vue Barracks in Manningham. The Battalion consisted of mainly textile workers from the local factories, along with Officers from professional backgrounds such as Doctors and Solicitors. The Battalion met on a weekly basis and Officers and men trained together, forming a strong bond within the Battalion. At the beginning of the war the Battalion was made up of 588 men. On the 1st of July 1916 the men waited in reserve at Thiepval and by the late afternoon they were called into action. Over the first two days of the battle the Battalion saw casualties of 264 men.

The 10th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment was formed in York in 1914 and was deployed to France in July 1915. The Battalion was sent into action at Fricourt on the 1st of July 1916 and suffered enormous casualties. On the 1st of July 310 soldiers from this regiment were killed.

The Battle of the Somme continued on until November 1916. By the end of the campaign the Allied forces had advanced only 6 miles, however this was the largest advanced made by the Allied forces since the Battle of Marne in 1914. The Battle of the Somme was the largest and one of the bloodiest battles of World War 1.

To mark the centenary of World War 1 and the contribution of Bradford’s people, Bradford Council, in conjunction with the Telegraph and Argus, launched an appeal in 2014 to raise funds for a memorial in France. The memorial will hopefully be unveiled in July this year as a lasting reminder of the sacrifices made during World War 1.

The Lord Mayor’s office also bought a poppy from the Tower of London Art Installation, to serve as a permanent tribute to those from across the district who lost their lives during the conflict. The poppy is on permanent display at Bradford City Hall. A Tower of London Poppy has also been donated to Bradford Museums & Galleries as a memorial to Walter Sefton, who died in 1917. This poppy is on permanent display at Bradford Industrial Museum.


US Medal of Honour

Corporal Thomas Pope

Corporal Thomas Pope, serving with Company E of 131st Infantry, 33rd United States Infantry Division, was the first American soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honour in the First World War. He won the award for his actions in the attack at Le Hamel on 4 July. The citation for his Medal of Honour award is as follows:

“His company was advancing behind the tanks when it was halted by hostile machinegun fire. Going forward alone, he rushed a machinegun nest, killed several of the crew with his bayonet, and, standing astride [this] gun, held off the others until reinforcements arrived and captured them.” (3)


Contents

Early wars Edit

Following the 1688 Glorious Revolution and the exile of James II, Henry Howard, Duke of Norfolk, raised a regiment at Chester on behalf of the new regime. [1]

The experience of the 1638-1652 Wars of the Three Kingdoms meant many considered standing armies a danger to individual liberties and a threat to society itself. [2] Until the mid-18th century, regiments were considered the property of their Colonel, changed names when transferred and were disbanded as soon as possible. [3]

In September 1689, Sir Henry Belasyse became Colonel and as Belasyse's Regiment of Foot, the unit went to Ireland as part of an Anglo-Dutch force commanded by Frederick Schomberg. When inspected at Dundalk in October 1689, it was reported as having '. hardly any good officers and an entire absence of good order. but Belasyse expected to work reforms.' [4]

During the 1689-1691 Williamite War in Ireland, it fought at The Boyne, Aughrim, and the Second Siege of Limerick that ended the war in August 1691. [5] The regiment was transferred to Flanders in October, where it spent the rest of the Nine Years War, fighting at the Battle of Landen in 1693 and during the 1695 Allied siege of Namur. [6]

After the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, the Tory majority in Parliament was determined to reduce costs and by 1699, the English military was less than 7,000 men. [7] However, England, Ireland and Scotland were then separate entities with their own Parliaments and funding Belasyse's Regiment of Foot avoided disbandment by being transferred onto the Irish military establishment. [8]

On the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701, the regiment was posted to Jamaica this was a notoriously unhealthy location and Sir Henry Belasyse transferred his Colonelcy to William Selwyn. The regiment spent the next twelve years in the West Indies soon after arrival in April 1702, Selwyn died and was replaced by Thomas Handasyd, both as Colonel and Governor of Jamaica. [9] Thomas returned to England and was succeeded as Colonel by his son Roger Handasyd in 1712, a position he retained until 1730. [10]

In 1726, the regiment was posted to Menorca, where it remained for the next 22 years, [11] although a detachment was present at the Battle of Dettingen in June 1743, during the War of the Austrian Succession. [12]

By 1751, the regiment had become the 22nd Regiment of Foot. [13] In 1758, it took part in the Siege of Louisbourg in French Canada. [14] The regiment also took part in General Wolfe's victory over the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in September 1759. [15] They then took part in the conclusive three pronged attack against Montréal which capitulated in September 1760. [15]

The regiment received two battle honours for taking part in the capture of Martinique and the British expedition against Cuba during 1762. [16]

American Revolutionary War Edit

The regiment was sent to North America for service in the American Revolutionary War in 1775. [17] Lieutenant Colonel James Abercrombie, commanding the regiment, embarked in advance of the rest of the regiment at the request of General Thomas Gage and arrived in Boston just before the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was killed in action. [17] The regiment later evacuated from Boston to Halifax and then took part in the New York and New Jersey campaign of 1776. The Battalion Companies participated in the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778 [18] and then returned to New York City in 1779 the bulk of the regiment remained there until the end of the War. [19]

Although the County designation existed as early as 1772, the regiment was retitled the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot in 1782. [19]

French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars Edit

The regiment deployed to the West Indies in September 1793, where it took part in expeditions against Martinique, Saint Lucia, Guadeloupe, and Saint-Domingue. [20] In January 1800 the regiment was posted to South Africa, [21] before moving to India. There it suffered heavy losses during the assault on Bhurtpore in 1805. [22] In 1810, the regiment took part in the occupation of Mauritius. [23]

The Victorian era Edit

The regiment took part in the Battle of Meeanee in February 1843, the Battle of Hyderabad in March 1843 and the conquest of Sindh in summer 1843 during further Indian service. [24]

The regiment was not fundamentally affected by the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s, which gave it a depot at Chester Castle from 1873, or by the Childers reforms of 1881 – as it already possessed two battalions, there was no need for it to amalgamate with another regiment. [25] Under the reforms the regiment became The Cheshire Regiment on 1 July 1881. [26] The reforms added the following units: 1st Royal Cheshire Light Infantry Militia, 2nd Royal Cheshire Militia, 1st Cheshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, 2nd (Earl of Chester's) Cheshire RVC, 3rd Cheshire RVC, 4th Cheshire (Cheshire and Derbyshire) RVC, and the 5th Cheshire RVC. Its recruiting area was confirmed as being the County of Cheshire. [27]

Both battalions of the regiment served in Burma between 1887 and 1891, while the 2nd Battalion saw active service in South Africa from 1900 to 1902, during the Second Boer War. [12] After the end of the war, 376 officers and men of the battalion returned home in October 1902, and were stationed at Aldershot. [28] The 3rd (Militia) battalion was also embodied for active duty in South Africa, with 450 men reported as returning home after the end of the war in September 1902. [29]

In 1908, the Volunteers and Militia were reorganised nationally, with the former becoming the Territorial Force and the latter the Special Reserve [30] the regiment now had one Reserve and four Territorial battalions. [31] [10]

First World War Edit

Regular Army Edit

The 1st battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 15th Brigade in the 5th Division in August 1914 for service on the Western Front. [32] It took part in the Battle of Mons in August 1914, the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914, the First Battle of the Aisne also in September 1914, the Battle of La Bassée in October 1914, the Battle of Messines also in October 1914 and in the First Battle of Ypres also in October 1914. It also saw action at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 and the Battle of Hill 60 also in April 1915. In 1917 they fought at the Battle of Arras in April 1917 and the Battle of Passchendaele in July 1917. It then took part in the Battle of the Lys in April 1918 and the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and the Final Advance in Picardy later in the year. [33]

The 2nd battalion, which was recalled from India in December 1914, landed at Le Havre as part of the 84th Brigade in the 28th Division in January 1915 for service on the Western Front it moved to Egypt in October 1915 and then on to Salonika. [32]

Territorial Force Edit

The 1/4th Battalion landed in Gallipoli as part of the 159th Brigade in the 53rd (Welsh) Division in August 1915 after being evacuated to Egypt in December 1915 the battalion landed in France in May 1918 for service on the Western Front. [32] The 1/5th (Earl of Chester's) Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 14th Brigade in the 5th Division in February 1915 for service on the Western Front. [32] The 1/6th Battalion landed in France as GHQ Troops and saw considerable action on the Western Front under a number of different formations. [32] The 1/7th Battalion landed in France as part of the 15th Brigade in the 5th Division in November 1914 for service on the Western Front. [32] The Second Line (2/4th, 2/5th, 2/6th and 2/7th) and Third Line (Reserve) (3/4th, 3/5th, 3/6th and 3/7th) TF battalions did not go overseas, but remained as home defence and training units. [32]

New Armies Edit

The 8th (Service) Battalion landed in Gallipoli as part of the 40th Brigade in the 13th (Western) Division in June 1915 after evacuation to Egypt in January 1916 it moved to Mesopotamia in February 1916. [32] The 9th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 58th Brigade in the 19th (Western) Division in July 1915 for service on the Western Front. [32] The 10th (Service) Battalion and the 11th (Service) Battalion landed in France as part of the 75th Brigade in the 25th Division in September 1915 for service on the Western Front. [32] The 12th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 66th Brigade in the 22nd Division in September 1915 for service on the Western Front but moved to Salonika in November 1915. [32] The 13th (Service) Battalion landed in France as part of the 74th Brigade in the 25th Division in September 1915 for service on the Western Front. [32] The 15th (Service) Battalion (1st Birkenhead) and the 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Birkenhead) landed at Le Havre as part of the 105th Brigade in the 35th Division in January 1916 for service on the Western Front. [32]


Related Topics

Tracing World War 1 Family History

Cpl Thomas Parker, 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, killed on the Somme battlefield 6 November 1916.

For advice and information on how to start tracing an ancestor who served in the military in the First World War 1914-1918 see our page at:

WW1 Research and Sources of Information

Part of a British Army Trench Map 28NE3 Edition 7B (German trenches corrected to 24.10.17) showing Fitzclarence Farm to the north east of Inverness Copse on the Ypres Salient battlefield.

For more information about where to find archives, military records, official publications, maps, War Diaries, medal records and a variety of research material for tracing family history in the First World War period go to our section on research at:


Watch the video: DOKU 1080p: Die letzten Zeugen des großen Kriegs - Schlacht an der Somme (June 2022).


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