In 1914 when Britain went to war, Field Marshal Horatio Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, recognised that the country had gone to war with an incredibly small army. Predicting a long conflict that would need a huge amount of men and resources, Kitchener set about building his ‘New Army’. New Divisions were formed, the back-bone of which consisted of ‘Pals Battalions’ recruited from local communities.
This virtual tour will tell the story of one of the New Army Divisions, the 34th, from its raising, with a focus on the Tyneside Irish of the 103rd Brigade, its training and eventual embarkation to northern France. The attack at La Boisselle on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme would be the Divisions first major action and with over 6,000 casualties, it would lose more men than any other Division involved in the struggle on that dreadful day. Using first-hand accounts, we will follow their journey that would eventually lead to the Battle of the Somme and the brutal fighting around La Boisselle.