Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Remembering Harry - 1st July 1916

After a month there we came out to practice for the Battle of the Somme.  We had rehearsals for it and we linked up with the French.  We were on the right hand side of the British Army.  Our objective was about a thousand yards, that was all.  Well they knew we were coming and our guns were wheel to wheel, you never heard such a bombardment.  The small eighteen-pounders and then back to the big ones and they were wheel to wheel.  Our chaps went over and of course they lost hundreds in the first hour.  It was no gain really, a thousand yards was nothing at all."

"We were well equipped, well trained men and intelligent men.  We were all volunteers, there were no conscripts in 1916.  They were well trained young chaps and they just slaughtered them, hundreds and hundreds of thousands for nothing at all.  They’d got machine-guns, all the emplacements, and they just mowed them down.  I lost all my friends, I didn’t have one, which was the same with most people.”

Harry Bardsley, serving with the 18th Manchester Regiment, looks back on the 1st July 1916. Above, Harry as I remember him, pictured in 1981. He always thought this photo made him look like "the old man in the jungle." Read more about Harry here.

Today, on the 99th anniversary of the opening of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, I remember Harry Bardsley and, with gratitude, all the men of the British and Commonwealth forces who took part that day.


Naval & Military Press