PALS & NEIGHBOURS: As Britain stood alone

Sheffield Memorial Park, Somme Battlefields, France
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Valerie Stimac is a Seattle-based travel writer and editor. Is Tooting London's next big thing? This battalion became known as the Sheffield City battalion because it was recruited from Sheffield and was chiefly made up of men from the city.

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At that time the encouragement to join up as part of the recruiting campaign played on the idea that men from similar working trades and professions, and sports or social clubs should enlist together. The tragic consequences of this idea would be played out when these men went into action to fight together. Most of the Pals Battalions spent up to 18 months in training before arriving in northern France in the spring of where they began to prepare to take part in the Battle of the Somme. This was to be a large-scale attack to be launched by the British Army on a 15 mile front against the German Army's well fortified positions.

Most of the Pals Battalions in 31st Division went into action from this part of the British Front Line on the morning of 1 st July They were well trained and moral was good, but they were inexperienced in battle. Their division was in position at the far northern end of the 15 mile front of the attack. The task of 31st Division was to advance east through the German Front line and capture the fortified village of Serre, several hundred yards ahead of the British Front Line.

The German regiment on the other side of the wire was the th Infantry Regiment.

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[KINDLE] PAL'S & NEIGHBOURS: As Britain stood alone by SEP BURGESS. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read . As Britain Stood Alone Sep Burgess. control the North Sea and Atlantic towards the blockade of the British Isles by U-Boats. Hardly had the situation settled.

Once beyond the village the division was to pivot at a 90 degree angle to face north, whilst keeping touch with its neighbour, the British 48th Division, on its left. This would be a difficult manoeuvre to make even if the men were not under fire. The photo is taken looking in a north-westerly direction towards Sheffield Memorial Park from the British Front Line of 1 st July The positions of the first and second line battalions are indicated on the photo.

They had moved forward from the rear areas into these positions - called the Assembly Trenches - on and just behind the British Front Line during the evening of 30 June into the early hours of 1 July. Battalion War Diaries record that the men were given a meal before they set off on their march from the rear to these positions. Many received hot tea and rum too. Some battalions suffered casualties from German artillery shelling just before the infantry attack began at Ten minutes before Zero at This prompted German machine gunners to open fire.

The German artillery also put down a curtain of fire onto the British trenches. The men were climbing up the trench ladders out of the Assembly trenches to move forward into the British Front Line trench. They were to follow on behind the 15th West Yorks Leeds Pals who were in front of them leading the attack.

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Casualties were heavy. According to a statement by Sergeant-Major Cussins:. On getting out of the trenches to take up our position in front, we lost heavily, through the line of shrapnel, machine gun and rapid rifle fire; by the time we attained our position in front of Bradford trench most of the officers, N. Accompanied by several other battalion Staff officers they started to make their way to the front line. However, within a couple of minutes Major Guyon was struck through the helmet by a bullet in the temple. Although the commander was unconscious and even though Laxton records in a statement to the War Diary that the man was apparently dying, he bandaged him up.

The casualties of the Pals Battalions who went into action on 1 st July were very heavy. Most of these battalions went into the attack at a strength of about men.

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Some men had been left behind in the rear area from each battalion. The War Diaries record the tragedy of the day where so few men even reached the German Front Line trench before being wounded or killed. Many of the dead lying beyond the British Front Line of 1 st July would never be recovered and their names would later be carved on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Some men were recovered when the fighting moved eastward beyond the 1 July Front Lines in Some of the Pals are buried in cemeteries nearby such as Serre Road No. Others who were carried behind the lines to be given medical aid and subsequently died are buried in rear area cemeteries. It was a similar story for the other Pals Battalions in action on 1 July.