on 11 January 2007
The 1st July 1916 - the first day of the Battle of the Somme, has gone down in history as one of the bloodiest days the British Army ever experienced! At 0730 hours on that fateful day, men of 14 British Divisions advanced slowly across "no man's land" towards the 18 mile wide, German front line. They expected little, if any resistance as the entire area had been subjected to a continuous bombardment during the previous week, however the German Army was at its most powerful and at the pinnacle of efficiency and as a result, our troops did not succeeded in gaining more than a small permanent foothold in the enemy positions! In fact, by the end of the day, no less than 57,000 of our troops had fallen and 19,000 killed!
As days, weeks and months passed, the battle continued, tanks were used in action for the first time in history and eventually, after four long months of fighting, Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig at last "closed" the battle on the 16th November. During this time, entire villages in the area had been reduced to rubble and the battlefield, now a sea of mud had claimed over 419,000 British Commonwealth and 650,000 German casualties!
Volumes have in the past been published on the famous "Pals" Battalions from the industrial towns and cities of Northern England and their contribution in the Great War, however to date, little has been written about the achievements and sacrifices of the regular and territorial battalions of either the Devonshire or the Dorset regiments.
Now, thanks to his extensive and painstaking research, Major Tim Saunders MBE- (an expert military historian and a serving officer in the Devon and Dorset Regiment) , has succeeded in writing a brilliant book, that chronicles the major actions in which these two famous regiments fought during the long Summer and Autumn of 1916. Often using the actual words of the men who were there, Tim Saunders has searched archives, regimental diaries and private document and has backed up his excellent narrative with many superb maps and diagrams and a large number of unique photographs which were taken at the time.
Family history researchers, local historians along with anyone interested in the Great War, Military History and the Devonshire or Dorset Regiments in particular will find this superb book fascinating.An excellent buy !