1 Jul 2006


Today is the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The British Army lost 60,000 casualties in the first 12 hours of fighting. 20,000 dead and 40,000 wounded, the greatest loss in their history. More poignantly, many of the volonteer army had joined in 'buddy' outfits, according to their trades. You had regiments of bakers, companies of miners and so on, often all from the same close knit towns and villages. They were mown down by the Germans, like grass before a scythe.

When deaths in Iraq of coalition troops do not equal the amount of accidental deaths in the US armed forces in a year, we have to remind ourselves of what our grandfathers and great grandfathers went through in a few hours.