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The First Day on the Somme
1st July 1916
By Ken Austin

The Battle of the Somme

The first day of the Battle of the Somme, in northern France, was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army and one of the most infamous days of World War One.

1st July 1916, was the opening day of the Battle of Albert (1–13 July), the name given by the British to the first two weeks of the Battle of the Somme. The British forces suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 fatalities. They gained just three square miles of territory.

British and German troops faced each other's trenches only separated by a few hundred yards of “no-man’s land”. The British force consisted of soldiers from Britain and Ireland, as well as troops from Newfoundland, South Africa and India. Nine corps of the French Sixth Army, the British Fourth and Third armies, attacked the German 2nd Army of General Fritz von Below, from Foucaucourt south of the Somme northwards to Serre, north of the Ancre and at Gommecourt, which was 2 miles (3.2 km) beyond, in the Third Army area.

First day on the SommeThe British generals staged a massive artillery bombardment and sent 100,000 men over the top to take the German trenches. The objective of the attack was to capture the German first and second positions from Serre south to the Albert–Bapaume road and the first position from the road south to Foucaucourt. They were confident of victory. The German defence south of the road mostly collapsed and the French had "complete success" on both banks of the Somme, as did the British from Maricourt on the army boundary, where XIII Corps took Montauban and reached all its objectives and XV Corps captured Mametz and isolated Fricourt.

However, the III Corps attack on both sides of the Albert–Bapaume road was a disaster, the British soldiers were unable to break through the German defences and were mown down in their thousands by machine gun and artillery fire , making only a short advance south of La Boisselle, where the 34th Division had the largest number of casualties of any Allied division on 1 July. Further north, the X Corps attack captured the Leipzig Redoubt, failed opposite Thiepval and had a great but temporary success on the left flank, where the German front line was overrun by the 36th Ulster Division, which then captured Schwaben and Stuff redoubts.

Map of the first dayGerman counter-attacks during the afternoon recaptured most of the lost ground north of the Albert–Bapaume road and more British attacks against Thiepval were costly failures. On the north bank of the Ancre, the attack of VIII Corps was a disaster, with large numbers of British troops being shot down in no man's land. The VII Corps diversion at Gommecourt was also costly, with only a partial and temporary advance south of the village. The German defeats from Foucaucourt to the Albert–Bapaume road left the German defence on the south bank incapable of resisting another attack and a substantial German retreat began, from the Flaucourt plateau to the west bank of the Somme close to Péronne, while north of the Somme, Fricourt was abandoned overnight. Several truces were observed to recover wounded from no man's land on the British front, where the Fourth Army had lost 57,470 casualties, of whom 19,240 men were killed. The French had 1,590 casualties and the German 2nd Army lost 10,000–12,000 men. Orders were issued to the Anglo-French armies to continue the offensive on 2 July and a German counter-attack on the north bank of the Somme by the 12th Division, intended for the night of 1/2 July, took until dawn on 2 July to begin and was destroyed. Since 1 July 1916, the cost of the battle and the "meagre gains" have been a source of grief and controversy in Britain; in German and French writing, the first day of the Battle of the Somme has been little more than a footnote to the mass losses of 1914–1915 and the Battle of Verdun.

This day set a bloody precedent: the Somme campaign wore on for five months and, in all, more than a million soldiers from the British, German and French armies were wounded or killed.

All across the land, the bells rang out to mourn the dead from one day's bloody battle in a far away land and Lurgan was no different. Lurgan lost more of it's sons on that one day than any other battle during World War One. Below are the names of our fallen. We do not consider it a full and complete list of all who lost their lives from the Lurgan and district area on 1st July 1916, if you know of any we have missed, please do send them to us.

Addis, Robert

Rank:  Private Number:  13972 Age:   Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL, MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  

Baird, Robert

Rank:  Private Number:  13998 Age:  41 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  ANCRE BRITISH CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL Somme, France Notes:  Son of Charles and Susan Baird, of Lurgan; husband of the late Susanna Baird, of Lurgan

Bell, James

Rank:  Private Number:  14027 Age:  19 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL France Notes:  Son of John and Martha Bell, of Derrymacash, Lurgan

Best, Oliver

Rank:  Rifleman Number:  62 Age:   Regiment:  Royal Irish Rifles 13th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL France Notes:  Son of John Best, of Moyrafferty, Lurgan

Black, T.H.

Rank:  Private Number:  14001 Age:  29 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  ANCRE BRITISH CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL France Notes:  Son of John and Jane Black, of Lurgan

Brown, John

Rank:  Sergeant Number:  14033 Age:   Regiment:  9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  ANCRE BRITISH CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL Notes:  

Brownlee, John

Rank:  Private Number:  14019 Age:  33 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  Son of Robert and Susan Brownlee, of 2, Robert St., Lurgan; husband of Frances Brownlee

Burns, John

Rank:  Lance Corporal Number:  13981 Age:  40 Regiment:  9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France Notes:  Husband of Emma Burns, of 37, Queen St., Lurgan

Calvert, Herbert J.

Rank:  Lance Corporal Number:  17147 Age:   Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  

Carson, Robert

Rank:  Private Number:  14061 Age:  29 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL France Notes:  Son of William John and Isabella Carson, of 88, Queen St., Lurgan

Cordner, William

Rank:  Private Number:  14111 Age:  19 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Notes:  Brother of Mrs. Margaret Hamilton, of 25, Brownlow Terrace, Lurgan.

Corkin, James

Rank:  Private Number:  14106 Age:  45 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  Son of Robert and Jane Corkin, of Drumgor, Lurgan; husband of Margaret Corkin, of 32, George St., L

Dillon, Victor Samuel

Rank:  Private Number:  14135 Age:  20 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers "C" Coy. 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Notes:  Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Dillon, of 5, Princes St., Lurgan

Fox, George Ross

Rank:  Lance Sergeant Number:  14173 Age:  35 Regiment:  "C" Coy. 9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  ANCRE BRITISH CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL Somme, France Notes:  Son of Thomas and Ellen Fox, of 18, Albert St, Lurgan

Gibson, Henry

Rank:  Private Number:  14239 Age:  20 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Notes:  Son of William John and Susan Gibson, of 31, Union St., Lurgan

Gibson, William John

Rank:  Private Number:  14225 Age:  27 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  Son of James and Mary Gibson, of 10, Brown Yard, Queen St., Lurgan, husband of Agnes Gibson.

Grimason, Robert

Rank:  Private Number:  14238 Age:  26 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  Son of William James Grimason, of 96, Victoria St., Lurgan

Hamilton, Alex

Rank:  Private Number:  14287 Age:  20 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  HAMEL MILITARY CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL Somme, France Notes:  Son of James and Maggie Hamilton, of 97, Avenue Rd., Lurgan

Hewitt, James

Rank:  Lance Corporal Number:  16423 Age:  18 Regiment:  "B" Coy. 9th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France Notes:  Son of Robert John and Agnes Hewitt, of Clounagh, Portadown

Hobbs, Andrew

Rank:  Private Number:  14259 Age:  38 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  Husband of Elizabeth Hobbs, of 140, Union St., Lurgan

Hobbs, David

Rank:  Private Number:  14305 Age:   Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  

Hobbs, Robert

Rank:  Sergeant Number:  14302 Age:   Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  

Houston, Samuel

Rank:  Private Number:  22154 Age:  18 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  Son of John and Ellen Houston, of 94, John St., Lurgan

Jones, Samuel

Rank:  Private Number:  14368 Age:  19 Regiment:  9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France Notes:  Son of Thomas and Maggie Jones, of 14, Bridge St., Lurgan

Kane, W. J.

Rank:  Private Number:  14382 Age:  28 Regiment:  9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  ANCRE BRITISH CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL Somme, France Notes:  Husband of Margaret L. Kane, of 168, Union St., Lurgan

Kelly, W.

Rank:  Private Number:  14378 Age:  36 Regiment:  "C" Coy. 9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  ANCRE BRITISH CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL, Somme, France Notes:  Son of Joseph and Anna Kelly; husband of Ellen Kelly, of Turmoyra, Lurgan

Langley, George

Rank:  Private Number:  11945 Age:  26 Regiment:  1st Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Somme, France Notes:  Son of John and Mary J. Langley, of 89, North St., Lurgan

Lennon, Arthur

Rank:  Private Number:  14424 Age:  43 Regiment:  9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France Notes:  Son of James Lennon of Bleany, Lurgan

Long, James

Rank:  Private Number:  19888 Age:  19 Regiment:  9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  HAMEL MILITARY CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL, Somme, France Notes:  Son of William John and Isabella Long, of 45, William St., Lurgan

Lyness, J.

Rank:  Private Number:  14421 Age:  21 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  SERRE ROAD CEMETERY No.1 France Notes:  Son of Ellen and James Lyness, of 17, Brown's Court, Queen St Lurgan

Magee, James

Rank:  Private Number:  14460 Age:  27 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France Notes:  Son of William John and Elizabeth Magee, 6, Henry St, Portadown; husband of Emily Magee, of Kilmori

McAnoy, Hugh

Rank:  Private Number:  9386 Age:  32 Regiment:  East Lancashire Regiment 1st Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme France Notes:  Son of Mrs. Bella McAnoy, of 121, Castle Lane, Lurgan

McFadzean VC, William Frederick

Rank:  Rifleman Number:  18278 Age:  20 Regiment:  14th Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France Notes:  Son of William and Annie Pedlow McFadzean, of Rubicon, Cregagh, Belfast. Born in Lurgan

McKerr Francis

Rank:  Private Number:  14542 Age:  35 Regiment:  "D" Coy. 9th Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France Notes:  Son of Robert and Sarah McKerr, of Drumgor, Lurgan.

Ruddell, George

Rank:  Private Number:  18624 Age:  22 Regiment:  Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) 109th Coy. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  CONNAUGHT CEMETERY, THIEPVAL France Notes:  Son of George and Mary Ruddell, of "Wenlock", Lurgan

Spence, Septimus Wesley George

Rank:  Rifleman Number:  503 Age:  25 Regiment:  Royal Irish Rifles 13th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme France Notes:  Brother of Howard R. Spence, of Maralin, Lurgan

Turkington, Ernest

Rank:  Corporal Number:  14725 Age:  22 Regiment:  9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  ANCRE BRITISH CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL, France Notes:  Son of William and Ellen Turkington, of 26, Brownlow Terrace, Lurgan

Watson, Frederick

Rank:  Private Number:  14771 Age:  18 Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme France Notes:  Son of William and Margaret Watson, of 24, Hill St., Lurgan

Watson, J.

Rank:  Private Number:  14770 Age:   Regiment:  Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  HAMEL MILITARY CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL France Notes:  Son of Mrs. Elizabeth Watson, of 8, Brownlow Terrace, Lurgan

Watson, Joseph

Rank:  Rifleman Number:  814 Age:   Regiment:  Royal Irish Rifles 13th Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  MILL ROAD CEMETERY, THIEPVAL France Notes:  Son of John and Mary Ann Watson, of 114, Victoria St., Lurgan

Wilson, Joseph

Rank:  Rifleman Number:  5116 Age:  19 Regiment:  Royal Irish Rifles 1st Bn. War:  WW1 Died:  1 July 1916 Buried:  THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme France Notes:  Son of Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Wilson, of 160, Union St., Lurgan

THEIR NAMES LIVETH FOR EVERMORE



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