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pdf27
07-01-2008, 06:19 PM
Today is the 92nd anniversary of the worst casualties ever suffered by the British Army in one day, on the first day of the battle of the Somme. The British, Australian, New Zealand, South African, Newfoundland and Indian troops suffered 57,470 casualties of whom 19,240 were dead, with 9 Victoria Crosses being awarded for actions that day.
Furthermore, this was the first major action carried out by the New Armies (i.e. those raised in response to Kitchener's 1914 appeal) which goes a long way to explain both the extent of the casualties and the psychological hold it still holds on the British.

To put the casualties in perspective, the number of wounded suffered by the British army on this one day was equal to 27% of those suffered by the United States in the entire war, and 16% of the American deaths (the skewing in the ratio being due to the US suffering a comparatively high fraction of their losses from Influenza compared to the other combatants).


At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them...

Rising Sun*
07-01-2008, 08:46 PM
US combat deaths for WWI are generally given around 53,500 (total US deaths around 63,000), so the British and Commonwealth deaths on the first day of the Somme equate to about 36% of America's combat deaths for the whole war.


At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them...

Rising Sun*
07-01-2008, 09:32 PM
To give a different perspective, Australia had five fewer combat deaths for the whole of WWII than the British and Commonwealth forces had on the first day of the Somme.

It's a loss beyond comprehension for one day.

pdf27
07-02-2008, 02:31 AM
It also hit some areas disproportionately - a large number of Pal's Battalions still existed at the time, and some units were hit very hard indeed. The Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont Hamel for instance took 91% casualties on that first day, and they weren't even the worst hit unit.

The bit that still leaves me awestruck is the fact that the units who took these casualties got up and attacked again the next day, and the army kept on doing so for months. The sheer courage involved in doing so is just incredible.

Digger
07-02-2008, 09:21 PM
This thread sends a shiver down my spine as my grandfather fought in this battle and not only survived unscathed, but fought for another two years.

He never talked of the fighting, only ever recounted events behind the lines and at home. He was 16 on the first day of the Somme battle.

Digger

Chevan
07-03-2008, 01:17 PM
This thread sends a shiver down my spine as my grandfather fought in this battle and not only survived unscathed, but fought for another two years.

He never talked of the fighting, only ever recounted events behind the lines and at home. He was 16 on the first day of the Somme battle.

Digger
oh it so tragical mate.
I didn't guess you ancestor fought at ww1...
16 years, almost child...

pdf27
07-03-2008, 03:14 PM
I think most of us with UK ancestry had ancestors in WW1. In my case a Great Uncle of mine fought in WW1 (I think with the Bedfordshire Regiment - thankfully he survived the war, although someone I think is probably a relative of his relative died while with the Bedfordshire Regiment near Ypres on the 28th July 1916). Another Great Uncle died with Bomber Command during WW2 in a training accident.

pdf27
07-03-2008, 03:35 PM
Update - looks like I've actually got two relatives who died in WW1. The second was killed during the battle of the Somme, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing (having no known grave).
I'm not exactly sure what manner of relation they are - at the moment I'm going on them sharing the same unusual name and being very close geographically to where my Grandfather's family lived at the time. I'll chase that down further when the 1911 census is released.

Cojimar 1945
07-03-2008, 11:53 PM
I read that in one day in August 1914 the French had over 27,000 soldiers killed. I would be interested in knowing more details if anyone has additional info.

Digger
07-04-2008, 07:26 PM
oh it so tragical mate.
I didn't guess you ancestor fought at ww1...
16 years, almost child...

He was a boy soldier in the British army, enlisting at age 14 and from what little I know first saw action at age 15. As he didn't talk much about it, even to my father I have no idea of which unit he served.

I believe he was wounded twice, the most serious was being gassed late in the war. This caused respitory problems later in life and he passed away in 1969 as a result.

The major reminisence that I remember is meeting Australian soldiers behind the lines. He enjoyed their company and these experiences encouraged him to migrate to Australia in the early 1920's.

Digger

Cojimar 1945
12-01-2008, 05:11 PM
Does anyone have any opinion on what the most accurate figures are for British and dominion casualties in the war by category and location? I have seen the number of BEF killed and missing on the western front given as 677,515 by one source yet another source puts combat-related deaths on the western front for the BEF at around 532,000.