17th On Guard at Div Bomb Store. Enemy aeroplanes fly over about 7pm. 18th come off guard. 7pm same date went up to trenches up to knees in mud, filling in Cable trench (?). Returned to Bus at 4am 19th June. Slept until 1pm & nothing else doing today. Digging etc up at the trenches until 24th when our great bombardment started.
25th June enemy aeroplanes fly over Bus & drop 3 bombs in our camp slightly wounding two
KOYLIs. 26th Bosche shells Bus & kills 2 of 16th Bradfords & wound two or three more. 27th buzzed about all day getting ready for tomorrow night. Wrote letters in Bed to Maud. 28th Have sent letter to Maud, also P.Cs to Mother, Louis, Annie, Davy and Maud. Am patiently waiting for tonight & shall be glad when it is all over. 29th Advance postponed until tomorrow.
30th Address by Corps Commdr before the ??? tonight. Hunter Norton (?)
|The attack started
at 7.30 in the morning of 1st July 1916. By 8.00am most of his
battalion had been annihilated and Sergeant Sewell was mortally
wounded with gunshot wounds to his head and thigh. He spent
the night out in "no-man's-land" and was brought back to
England where he died of his wounds on the 9th July.
"Things had quietened down early on the Serre
Front. By ten in the morning it had been all over. Two
out of three of the men who had gone over the top had become
casualties and lay dead or wounded on the gentle slope between their
trenches and the German lines. The Pals who had joined up in
all the euphoria of the early weeks of the war, the lads from Leeds,
from Bradford, from York, from Lancaster, from Sheffield, from Hull,
had been slaughtered in the first short hour of the great
battle. The last echo of the cheers and the shouts, the last
faint remembered notes of the brass bands that had sent them off
from the towns and villages of the north, had died out in a whisper
that morning in front of Serre."
(from Macdonald, L., Somme; Penguin 1993)
For a fictional, although highly realistic, account of trench
warefare,, see Sebastian Faulks, Birdsong