Cer­e­mony to salute sol­diers of the Somme

Macclesfield Express - - THE SOMME 1916-2016 - STU­ART GREER

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

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●● Bri­tish sol­diers go over the top dur­ing the Bat­tle of the Somme

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