Ceremony to salute soldiers of the Somme
DOZENS of brave Macclesfield men who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme are to be honoured during a ceremony.
The infamous battle in the First World War started on July 1, 1916, and lasted 141 days.
It claimed the lives of 420,000 British soldiers including at least 55 from Macclesfield and dozens of others from the sur- rounding towns and villages.
Macclesfield Royal British Legion will lead the town’s commemorations with a ceremony at Bollington War Memorial at 7.30am on Friday.
Peter Lake, from Mac- clesfield Royal British Legion, said: “The battle of the Somme was horrific and one of the bloodiest days in the history of the British Army, with some 19,240 brave men losing their lives. As a nation it is important that we do not forget the sacrifice made by all those who fought in the Great War.”
The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the war.
More than 100,000 British soldiers were sent over the top on the battle’s first day to attack the German lines in what was to have been a grand offensive.
But it was a catastrophic failure as German forces hid in trenches to wait out days of artillery bombardment and then turned heavy machine guns upon the allied forces as they advanced.
A horrific 57,470 young men were mown down on that first day alone and 19,240 of those were killed, including two from Macclesfield, three from Bollington, and one from Prestbury, Mottram St Andrew and Sutton.
Among them was Private John ‘Jack’ Bulger, of the 7th attached 5th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, who died aged 27.
Jack, from Hurdsfield, was from a family of cotton weavers.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times, a precursor of the Express, where his family revealed it had received letters from Jack’s comrades telling them he died ‘a soldier’s death’ and in ‘no pain’.
Others from the town who died on the first day included: Lieut Roy Mellor, 21, from Macclesfield, Pte Williams Leigh, Pte Leo Mattimore, Rfl James Morris, all from Bolling- ton, Rifleman Henry Slater, from Mottram St Andrew, 2nd Lieut Arthur Yates, from Prestbury, and L/Cpl William Holland from Sutton.
By the end of the five month battle the allied forces had advanced seven miles but failed to break through the German lines.
Information was supplied by Macclesfield Reflects (www.macclesfieldreflects.org.uk).
From left: 2nd Lieut Arthur Yates, Pte Jack Bulger and Lieu Roy Mellor all died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme
●● British soldiers go over the top during the Battle of the Somme