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Slaughter on the Somme [Hardcover]

John Grehan , Martin Mace
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 April 2013
At 07.30 hours on 1 July 1916, the devastating cacophony of the Allied artillery fell silent along the front on the Somme. The ear-splitting explosions were replaced by the shrill sound of hundreds of whistles being blown. At that moment, tens of thousands of British soldiers climbed out from the trenches on their part of the Western Front, and began to make their way steadily towards the German lines opposite. It was the first day of the Battle of the Somme. By the end of the day, a number of the battalions involved had met with some degree of success; others had suffered heavy losses for no gain, whilst a few quite literally ceased to exist. That day, the old infantry tactics of the British Army clashed head-on with the reality of modern warfare. On what is generally accepted as the worst day in the British Army's history, there were more than 60,000 casualties - a third of them fatal. In this publication, the authors have drawn together, for the first time ever, all the War Diary entries for those battalions that went "over the top" that day - a day which even now still touches so many families both in the United Kingdom and around the world. The result is a vital work of reference to the events of 1 July 1916, a valuable information source for not only for those interested in military history, but genealogists and historians alike.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 514 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Military (30 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184884770X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848847705
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The collection of war dairies includes entries from soldiers who went 'over the top' on the British army's worst day in history. Accrington Observer

About the Author

Martin Mace has been involved in writing and publishing military history for more than twenty years. He began his career with local history, writing a book on the Second World War anti-invasion defences and stop lines in West Sussex. In 2006 he began working on the idea for Britain at War Magazine, This publication has grown rapidly to become the best-selling military history periodical. John Grehan has written more than 150 books and articles on military subjects, covering most periods of history. John is currently employed as the Assistant Editor of Britain at War Magazine.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended 30 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
`Slaughter on the Somme' by Martin Mace and John Grehan is a wonderful book that contains the war diaries of each battalion that went over the top on the 1 July 1916 during the opening day of the battle of the Somme. This volume is required reading for anybody interested in the most disastrous day ever experienced by the British Army when they lost an unprecedented 57,470 casualties in a single day. Each diary is placed next to each other within their Corps and contains raw and sometimes detailed accounts of the operation, written shortly after it had happened and makes compelling reading.
Martin Mace and John Grehan have made great efforts to collate this extensive collection of war diaries into one volume. It is an enormous task that they have undertaken. I can empathise with their efforts because I have spent a lot of time researching through the same war diaries at the National Archives for own forthcoming book on the first day of the Somme campaign. To any student of this absorbing subject to have all the battalion war diaries in one volume is fantastic and will save future researchers and authors a lot of time venturing to the National Archives at Kew or downloading from their website and isolating the sections relating to this topic. Purchasing a copy of this book is money well spent.
The book will be of particular interest to anyone who has an ancestor who took part in that significant day in British history, to persons embarking on their own pilgrimage to the Somme to walk in their footsteps for it provides accounts of the action along the entire front attacked from Gommecourt in the north to Montauban in the south.
What I like about the book is that everything in the battalion war diary relating to the first day of the Somme campaign is included.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account 3 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Top class collection of Diaries that would take a lot of time (and £££s) to collect yourself. Highly recommended for the serious war historian.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don-Hawkwind 16 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In just two years time it will be the centenary of this slaughter, (1st July 1916) . brave men going out to meet their death or injuries believing the lies told by their generals. there is a lot taken from war diaries of regiments who went 'over the top' on that fateful day, and from the survivors.
Hard hitting factual and well worth the read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the somme 27 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a must read of the stupidity of war.The carnage from this battle is horrendous and should be read by the youth of today as a deterrent against all violence.
Highly recommended and heartbreaking for such slaughter for a meaningless result.
A member of my own distant family was killed on the first day in this action.
Read and learn
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravery on the Somme. 23 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For all you died or injured on the Somme will never be forgot. This book portrays the gallantry each and everyone went through. It is a compelling read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Will surely become a standard reference text 16 Mar 2014
WHEN scores of British battalions attacked on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, many did so into a maelstrom of shrapnel and small arms fire.
By the day's end, almost 60,000 had become casualties which included 19,000 killed; it was, and still remains, the British Army's bloodiest day.
In Slaughter on the Somme, historians Martin Mace and John Grehan have, for the first time, presented the war diaries of those battalions which went over the top on July 1, 1916, to form the most comprehensive and unique narrative of that fateful day.
The diaries are presented on a corps by corps basis, and start from the northern end of the battlefield.
It is here that men of the 1/6 North Staffords and 1/5 Sherwood Foresters, part of the 46th North Midland Division launched their disastrous attack at Gommecourt.
Many families in East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire would have had relatives who fought here, and for those who want to find out about what their ancestors went through this book would be an ideal place to start.
While each battalion would have kept a war diary, the level of written detail does vary considerably between each unit. For example, the entry from the 1/5 Sherwood Foresters includes a detailed account from T.F.C Downman, who led a platoon during the attack. However, the entry for the 1/6 North Staffords is less detailed.
But that does not detract from the book, which is essentially primary source material in its purist form.
The book has been formulated from transcribing literally scores of handwritten diaries, which given their age and the conditions in which they were written is no mean feat.
The comprehensive scope of the book also means this will surely become a standard reference text for anyone from the amateur family historian to the academic scholar and will stand alongside other great works on the battle.
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