The main focus of the book concentrates upon the sixty-four officers of the British Army s 19th Division (including a small number who were attached from elsewhere) who were either killed or died of wounds during the storming of the heavily-fortified village of La Boisselle, on the Somme, during early July 1916. The initial chapters deal with events from autumn 1914, when the area was captured from the French by the advancing Germans, through the deployment of British regiments the following year, the localized trench raids and digging of mine shafts, and the events of 1 July 1916, when the British attack was totally thwarted after sustaining heavy casualties. A separate section explores the reasons why certain individuals felt compelled to become officers in the first place, often dictated by their pre-war social standing, or simply because the authorities felt they possessed the necessary military attributes to do so. The later chapters deal with the region until the Armistice and beyond, plus a detailed breakdown of casualty figures for all ranks. Apart from a small number of books giving a general background to the village s capitulation, there has not been an in-depth volume dedicated solely to the endeavors of the 19th Division. (Whilst the officers provide the structure for the narrative, the bravery and contribution of the men who followed them into battle is not overlooked. One of them was awarded a Victoria Cross, as was his overall Commanding Officer, plus a gallant lieutenant who fell in action, and all three are indicative of the chaos and courage of the close-quarter fighting experienced by private soldiers through to lieutenant colonels alike). Contained within this text are eyewitness accounts (including some recently uncovered), war diary entries, numerous photographs of the fallen (a small proportion of these involved a lengthy search to obtain, and the collection as a whole has never been collated in one place before), biographical details, contemporary and modern images (a handful of the former have rarely been given a public platform), and a critical overview of the battle as it unfolded. Coming so soon after the well-documented slaughter of 1 July 1916, the hard-fought tactical success at La Boisselle resulting in 3,500 casualties, of which 1,000 lost their lives is sometimes overlooked within the wider history of the Great War. Contains approx. 150 b/w photos & ills, 8 colour maps.
DAUNTLESS COURAGE ON THE SOMME Officers of the 19th Division who Fell at La Boisselle 1-10 July 1916
The heart of the book covers the assault and eventual capture of La Boisselle by the the 19th (Western) Division over the first ten days of the Somme offensive. It was indeed a hard, bitter experience and there is no shortage of courage, endurance and leadership in wresting a most difficult, stubbornly defended area from German units that knew it well. About half of the book studies the fighting in detail, hinging it around biographies of the regimental officers who were present. They are typical of the make up of the officer complement of many a “Kitchener battalion”: students, clerks, athletes, vicar’s sons and business men – with barely any military experience before the war.