1. Newfoundland Park and Y Ravine
Battalions from each corner of Great Britain fought here on 1st July 1916 but the big story is the futile sacrifice of the soldiers from Newfoundland, Canada. Also featured is the lesser known but no less enthralling capture of Y Ravine in November 1916 by the 51st (Highland) Division.
This is our chosen backdrop for the Battle of the Somme story. The first day of the battle was the worst in British military history and despite displays of heroism - recognised through the award of 51 Victoria Crosses - little was achieved. Eye-witness accounts portray the anguish of the 1.26 million soldiers who shed blood here and the desolation of the landscape.
3. La Boisselle
This village was turned into a veritable fortress by the Germans in the months prior to the attack. Our audio guide features a description of the attack of the Tyneside Scottish who were led forward through a storm of steel by a piper. You can also listen to the official V.C. citation for Major Adrian Carton de Wiart. Prior to the opening of the Somme offensive this gallant and inspiring officer had been 8 times wounded including the loss of a hand and an eye. During the attack on La Boisselle he threw hand grenades have removed the pins with his teeth.
4. Lochnagar Crater
Hear how the British tunnellers managed to plant 27 tonnes of explosives underneath the German front line and the impact the successful explosion of this mine had on the outcome of the battle.
This part of the Somme front is where many ‘Pals’ battalions from the industrial north of England were cut down. The featured account is of the annihilation of the Barnsley Pals and is sure to tug at the heart strings.
6. Delville Wood
This is the location of the South African National Memorial. On 15th July 1916, 3143 Springboks entered the wood and a week later 780 returned. At one point 400 artillery shells per minute rained down on them but – as our featured memoirs relate – the South Africans held on.
7. Ulster Tower
This monument to the Ulster Division stands close to the site of the notorious Schwaben Redoubt. Our audio guide will brief you on the thrilling attack of the Ulstermen in which 5 V.C.’s were won. We also tell you about some of the famous soldiers who were here in 1916 including poet Edmund Blunden and J. R. R. Tolkien author of ‘the Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of Rings’.
8. Thiepval Memorial
This massive memorial bears the names of more than 72,000 ‘missing’ British soldiers and we identify for listeners some of the most interesting. The memorial occupies a strategic position that was subjected to repeated British attacks in the summer of 1916. Our witnesses describe German positions here as ‘sinister’ and the fighting as ‘gruesome’.
Audio-guides included within Somme Witness:
Newfoundland Park and Y Ravine
(additional audio-guide Vimy Ridge)