Friday 1 July 2016

July 1916 The Somme - The Liverpool Pals


There were four battalions of Pals in the Kings Liverpool Regiment, the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th who formed a Pals Brigade in the 30th Division at The Somme.  To them might be added the Liverpool Scottish and the Liverpool Irish battalions of The Kings.

This is from the war diaries of the Pals Brigade, the map above is of the trench lines they occupied.

8 April general training and machine gun training
12 April construction of light railway Suzanne to Maricourt
1 May Etineham
5-9 May return to Maricourt, shelling
10 May Briqueterie Road
25 May Bn marched to St Saveur via Daours, Amiens, Fort St. Maurice, a long march indeed (Amiens)
26 May to 5 June practising attacks

10 June Brigade attack dress rehearsal
12 June entrained Ailly-sur-Somme to Heilly then the Billon Wood, where relieved 18 Manchesters, trenches (Maurepas).  Also, entrenching in Maricourt.
23 June Bn HQ moved Billon Wood to Maricourt
25 June Operation Order No. 40 issued for 1 July
29/30 June Copse Valley, Maricourt, Bn HQ Cobham Street,

1 July, Battle Of The Somme, 0625 hrs, bombardment, 0730 hrs advance to attack in four waves, ground unrecognisable, little cover, opposition speedily overcome. 
2 July holding captured trenches
4 July relieved, then to Bois-des-Tailles (Albert)
8 July returned to Maricourt and Trigger Wood Valley

11 Enemy attacked at Trones Wood and Waterlot Farm
12 July relieved
13 July Bois-des-Tailles
14 July Vaux-sur-Somme (Amiens), Corbie area

15 July congratulatory messages to the 30th Division from Lord Haig, and the Earl of Derby (Corps Commander), Maj-Gen JCM O’Shea promised they would attack again.

The Battle of The Somme has been extensively researched and is the subject of a literature of its own, as well as bitter debate about its inception, planning, conduct, and consequences.  This is not the place to attempt any analysis or comment.

It is enough to say that the 30th Division, and the Liverpool Pals attained their objectives early in the day, and with light casualties.  That here and at some other places along the line breakthroughs that were made were not taken advantage of or the attack pressed forward and supported meant that the opportunities were lost.

The Pals Brigade did attack again and paid a heavy price a few days later.

18 July Vaux-sur-Somme
19 July Somme Valley, road to Etinehem to Happy Valley (!)
30 July Trench at Maurepas, 4.45 attack, mist, could not see more than 10 yards, therefore no connection between waves.  Chaos, machine gun fire, patrols lost, heavy casualties.

31 July relieved, Pals congratulated by Div GOC, Maj-Gen O’Shea

Note:  According to one listing in the attack on 30 July 1916 the Pals Brigade, the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Battalions lost 456 men, few of whose bodies were recovered.

There was a high incidence of other casualties, a large number of men sent to the rear and later to England for treatment and convalescence.

Of those who returned to combat some were posted to other battalions in the Kings, notably the 13th KLR in 3rd Division (The Iron Division).

The picture includes my grandfather who served in the 20th Battalion, the 4th Pals.  He was injured on 30 July 1916 and was posted to the 13th Battalion on his return to France.


  1. I grew up listening to my grandfather talk about the Great War. Didn't say much about the fighting, really can't remember him saying anything at all about the fighting.

    I knew that he was in the 7th Machine Gun Battalion of the Third Infantry, and my Father noted to me as an aside once that he was at Chateau Thierry.

    When I got interested and read more about the 3ID and the Great War in general, I realized that I was very happy not to have been in attendance.

    When I discussed this with my Father (who had waded ashore at Anzio, he laughed and told me those were his thoughts exactly.

    My piddling little war pales

  2. Meanwhile our grandson is being taught about endangered species.