On the 1st July 1916 the British Army attacked the German Army along the line of the Somme. The aim was to relieve pressure on the French at Verdun. The result was the greatest disaster in British military history. At the end of the day the British had suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead.
The losses were particularly heavy along the northern part of the line. The Newfoundland Regiment was wiped out before Beaumont-Hamel. It suffered the worst losses of the day. “A great many fell before they even crossed the British line. Many more were hit as they picked their way through the gaps in the British wire. With exemplary courage, the survivors picked up their assault formations as best they could and “with chins tucked down as if walking into a blizzard” continued toward the German line about 400 metres further on”.
The Pals battalions suffered particularly heavy losses all along the Somme. These volunteer units had been raised with the promise that recruits could serve alongside men from their own town [e.g. the Accrington Pals], the same school [The “Grimsby Chums” was formed by former schoolboys of Wintringham Secondary School in Grimsby] and the same organisation [Glasgow Trams]. There was even a Stockbrokers’ Battalion.