| Sacrifice on the Western Front
| Monday, June 27, 2016
|Some dates live on in the American folk memory long after the events themselves are distant history—October 12, 1492; July 4, 1776; December 7, 1941. Few if any of us, however, know the significance of July 1, 1916.
But that date, a century gone, is seared into the soul of the British nation. It was the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when 120,000 men of the British army went “over the top” and attacked the German trenches. By day’s end, 19,240 of them were dead, 35,494 were wounded, 2,152 were missing, and 585 were prisoners of war.
That’s a total of 57,471 casualties—a staggering 47 percent of the men who left the trenches that day. In the Boer War, fought over two and a half years in the preceding
decade 7,582 British soldiers had been killed in action and another
22,828 wounded. In other words, in a single day in 1916, the British
army suffered 179 percent of the casualties it had endured in 31 months
in South Africa.
As the distinguished historian Andrew Roberts puts it
vividly, there were as many soldiers killed and wounded on the first day
of the Somme “as there are words in the main body of text in this
book.” The book in question is called Elegy: The First Day of the Somme. It was released in Britain last year. It has yet to find an American publisher. It should—it must—be published here.
HT : BCF
Read it all here..................
|posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:04 PM