From a soldier’s diary: “I remember the first occasion when I was called upon to go over the top. It was during the Somme “do,” where our battalion had already been in some nasty business near the Briqueterie and Trones Wood…” Read the whole thing here. The author, Private Fred Ball, enlisted in the Liverpool “Pals” in 1915.
The story of the ‘pals’ brigades, regiments mainly recruited from the same area, the same factory or the like is worth telling in its own right. It was a well-intentioned idea, but as the fate of the Accrington Pals revealed, ultimately disastrous for the localities from where they came. You can read about the Accrington Pals here, but this really says it all:
“The History of the East Lancashire Regiment in the Great War” records that out of some 720 Accrington Pals who took part in the attack [On July 1 1916], 584 were killed, wounded or missing. “The result of the H.E. shells, shrapnel, machine-gun and rifle fire was such that hardly any of our men reached the German front trench. The lines which advanced in such admirable order, melted away under fire; yet not a man wavered, broke the ranks or attempted to go back. I have never seen, indeed could never have imagined such a magnificent display of gallantry, discipline and determination.” (Brigadier-General HC Rees, GOC of 94th Brigade.)”