Battle of the Somme

Rye’s Own has always been keen to encourage local writers, artists and photographers. Last month we featured the remarkable story of Nick Turner. Less than a year ago his reading and writing abilities were those of a five year old, mainly due to the fact that he suffered from undiagnosed ‘word blindness’ (dyslexia).

Then his problem was discovered and thanks to the help of adult teacher Rita Cox and encouragement from others like British Legion Chairman David Pawsey, Nick can not only read but has become a very proficient writer. We published his work on D-Day last month. Here, as promised, is his portrayal of World War One. Written with such imagination you might think he had actually been in the trenches at the time.

                            Battle of the Somme

I am in the trench with my bayonet and have just finished cleaning it. I am glad this battle will be a short one. We are about to fight for the Somme.

My name is Nick Turner. I am a soldier. When I volunteered to help fight in this battle they promised that no German would survive the six days of bombardment that the English and French are chucking at the enemy front line. We have been told that this continuous bombardment would rip holes in the wire and destroy the concrete bunkers. When the shelling is over we will be able to just walk in and gain control.

This is now the sixth day and we have just finished bombing the Germans. Our platoon officer is announcing that we are to get ready. I have a good feeling about this, we all start to get ready and feel confident.

The Sappers fire two enormous mines; they are so loud I am sure you would hear the blast for miles around.

The whistles blow and the sound of bagpipes can be heard all along the British lines, the finest army ever assembled by the British Empire starts going over the top, one by one we climb the ladder and start the march into no mans land.

The air is filled with smoke and there are holes everywhere. We realise quite soon that the Germans aren’t dead as planned. They are ready and waiting for us. It turns into a bloody battle, our men are being shot down one by one and there are lots of painful screams.

Our army is falling quickly. We reach the barbed wire but there is not a scratch on it, not like we were told, no holes, nowhere to go but over the top but how?

Some men climb the wire but are shot as they try; this barbwire has been reinforced. The Germans are on the higher ground, they have every advantage. We are being slaughtered; the six days of bombardment have hardly touched the German front line.

We are looking everywhere for a hole or gap to get through, all the time we are being shot at. I trip over a body and land next to a man with his jaw blown off, he is lucky, he is dead. I get up and see hundreds and hundreds of dead bodies.

The idea is to somehow get through this mass of barbwire and take control of the concrete bunkers. I don’t think this is going to happen today.

I try to get over the wire; my flesh feels like it is being ripped off my body then it goes black.

Over The Top

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme 19,240 young British men lost their lives 35,494 young men were seriously wounded and 2,152 were classed as missing. This was the worst day in British History. The battle lasted four months; towards the end allied forces brought in tanks, even so the land gained was only 12km.

“Rye’s Own” July 2005

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