The Corner

When the Barrage Lifts

In my June Diary I noted the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.  The Imperial War Museum has posted some brief video clips from Geoffrey Malin’s documentary film of the battle, here:  Check out the Lancashire Fusiliers fixing bayonets before going over the top at Beaumont Hamel.  Wonder how many of those lads were still alive at nightfall.

I said that July 1, 1916 was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.  A reader wonders what the runner-up was.  I’m not sure, but I’d put my money on Towton. (Though it depends what you mean by “bloody.”  7/1/1916 surely had a higher count of “killed and wounded”; but back in the 15th century, your chances of dying from a wound were way, way higher, especially under “no quarter” rules of engagement.)

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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