Troops of the Royal Irish Rifles resting in a communication trench during the opening hours of the Battle of the Somme, July 1st 1916 (Photo © IWM Q1)

Help remember every soldier who fought at Battle of the Somme - IWM

Posted on centenarynews.com on 03 August 2015
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With just under a year to go until the centenary commemorations of the Battle of the Somme, members of the public have an opportunity to record the story of relatives who may have fought in the battle. 

The Imperial War Museums' (IWM) digital memorial, Lives of the First World War, aims to complete the life stories of the tens of thousands of soldiers who served.

Diane Lees, IWM Director General says, “The Battle of the Somme was a defining moment in the First World War. Sons, brothers and fathers risked their lives in one of the bloodiest battles. 

"Ahead of the 2016 centenary, IWM would like everyone to think about the ordinary men who went  'over the top' on 1 July and to help complete their stories on Lives of the First World War.”

In the early morning of July 1st 1916, the British Army launched an attack on the German front lines. By the afternoon, almost 20,000 British soldiers had been killed and over 37,000 were injured or missing.

A week-long artillery barrage had failed to cut the German barbed wire, with the result that few British regiments achieved their objectives. 

The Battle of the Somme would continue for another five months with total British casualties amounting to 600,000 with an estimated 500,000 German casualties.

Serre Road No. 2 Commonwealth Cemetery (Photo: Centenary News)

Given the scale of the battle and its importance in the history of the First World war, IWM wishes to recognise the sacrifice of each and every British and Allied soldier on Lives of the First World War.

It asks: "Did you have a relative who served? This is your opportunity to record their life and their story in words and photographs." 

*IWM stresses that it isn't seeking original copies of letters, pictures or diaries: "We encourage people to keep these in family collections for future generations and to upload and share heir digital images on Lives of the First World War," it explains.

Background

The Lives of the First World War website now contains a total of 7,662,316 names out of a total of 8 million men and women who served in the war. To date 128,689 life stories have been remembered (as of June 22nd 2015)

Some of the Battle of the Somme soldiers remembered on the site include: 

Second Lieutenant Kenneth Macardle, 17th Battalion, Manchester Regiment (2nd Manchester Pals)               

Kenneth Macardle played a key role in the most successful part of the battle’s opening day but was killed a week later while attempting to continue his battalion’s advance 

Second Lieutenant Percy George Boswell, 8th Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

Percy Boswell, from London, was 22 years old when he was killed in the first hour of the battle. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. 

Serjeant Percy Allsup, 11th (Service) Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment  (Accrington Pals)

Percy Allsup waited anxiously for news of his brother James, from the same battalion, who was wounded in the opening hour of the battle.

Accrington Pals Memorial, near Serre (Photo: Centenary News)

To remember and share your First World War connection, visit Lives of the First World War. The site will be maintained and preserved by IWM beyond the centenary as a research tool for future generations. 

Later this year, IWM will announce further commemorative plans to mark the Battle of the Somme centenary in 2016. 

Information supplied by Imperial War Museums

Images: Photo of Royal Irish Rifles © IWM (Q1), courtesy of Imperial War Museums

Serre Road Cemetery No.2 & Accrington Pals Memorial - Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by Jim Hamilton, Centenary News