What a waste of fine Infantry!

The Ghosts of the Somme

97 years ago today, nineteen Allied divisions went over the top in an all out assault on the Somme.  When the sun set at the end of the day, 20,000 men lay dead.  Another nearly 60,000 were wounded, many stranded in no-man’s land.
  Stretcher bearers dared the machine gun fire to bring the fallen back to safety and medical aid, earning two of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded that day.  Wounded were recovered for the next seven (!) days from this day’s assault, and then found that there were only 10,000 hospital beds for the 60,000 wounded.

The 1st Newfoundland Regiment had to leave the safety of the trenches 200 yards behind their own front lines, because the closer trenches were choked with dead.  The German machine guns mowed them down: the Regiment suffered 90% casualties in minutes.  Newfoundland may never have recovered from the loss of so many of its sons.
It was said that day that Lions were led by Donkeys. The ghosts of those lions are seen in this astonishing video from the battle.  You see one soldier shot just as he goes over the top.  His body slides back into the trench.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

The Somme was perhaps the most stark example of the futility of the Great War.  By the end of the battle, a million men were dead or wounded.  For this cost, the Allies pushed the front lines six miles towards Germany, a cost of 31 men per foot gained.

This was the day that Europe committed suicide.  It’s been a long, slow motion self-immolation, but that is now fair complete.  Sic transit Gloria Mundi.

Stolen from


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