JULY 1st 1916

They came from towns and villages from Astbury to Zennor. Amiens to Z…. They came from the farms, offices, factories and public schools. Pals from Manchester. Scousers, Brummies, Scots,Geordies,Taffies & Frenchies. They came from towns and villages often so small no one has ever heard of them. They left behind, mothers, fathers, wives, sweethearts, siblings and children. They left behind their country. It wasn’t for adventure or glory that they came, though some hoped for it. They came because their way of life was threatened.

This is not a place of budding poppies or neat white crosses….. There is nothing to inspire or evoke greatness, only acrid, oily smoke filling the air and stinging the eyes. The cachophony of heavy guns is so deafening it is impossible to think. You advance, the straps of your backpack, biting into your shoulderblades, step by step, rifle in hand, you advance, through a hail of machine gun fire, to Montauban, an impossible objective. Then silence. You crumble and fall. You are dead.
Those who live lay in the mud, with the stink of your stale blood, and rotting flesh. The stench of cordite is your sacramental incense. They lay with bodies torn apart for hours, sometimes days, slowly dying. They suffer for each breath you and I take for granted. All they want is to see loved ones a last, final time……

This is the reality of war, at 6 am, 91 years ago, the week long bombardment of the German lines ceased. At 7.30 Whistles were blown and in near silence thousands of men began to advance on the enemies front lines…..for James Harold Boardman, age 25, a private in the Manchester Regiment, it was a stroll to oblivion. No cross marks his grave – just a name on a slab of marble at Thiepval.




The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 31 July 1932.



3 thoughts on “01.07.1916

  1. The french commander in chief J. Joffre and General Haig should have been shot at dawn for mass murder.
    It was the sadest day in the history of the British Army, and should never have happend

  2. First, my thoughts and meditations today go to these men, and thanks for the name of one, young James.
    Then–thanks for leaving a note, and for your words of caution–I agree.  Formal religion is false as politics, and profoundly more of a heresy because of what it claims to be about.  I think perhaps you misunderstood, or perhaps I misunderstood your comment: I do not choose to follow any religion, but rather that inate urge in Humans to understand the nature of Reality, which I personally call Spirit.  By any name, something is going on here, and I aim to understand it better.  Yes, Religion only gets one farther from what is true, I firmly believe this.  It has been so corrupted over time that it is downright dangerous.  Christ (as well as Mohammed, and some of the other founders of religious thought) would be appalled I think, at what has become of their message, and the acts of those who claim to follow it.  But let\’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.  The original ideas, though obscured by modern religion, are worthy of some digging effort.
    I hesitated to put the images from the cathedral at my site, for the reason that modern Christianity has become so corrupted.  But I decided to do so, as from the look and feel of them, the creators seemed to have an inkling of the greater reality of spirit, and of Love.

  3. Imagine there\’s no countriesIt isn\’t hard to doNothing to kill or die forAnd no religion tooImagine all the peopleLiving life in peace…
    You may say I\’m a dreamerBut I\’m not the only oneI hope someday you\’ll join usAnd the world will be as one

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