Peter Parker

Action this day

Peter Parker reviews Elegy by Andrew Roberts, a necessarily bloody account of the first day on the Somme

‘July 1st 1916 was the most interesting day of my life,’ Philip Howe recalled, with characteristic English dryness, half a century after taking part in the most catastrophic 24 hours in the history of the British army. Howe had been a lieutenant in the 10th West Yorkshires, which had the grim distinction of losing more men during the first day on the Somme than any other battalion: of the 1,050 that went into battle, 710 became casualties, 60 per cent of whom were killed.

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