The village of Serre was in German hands from September 1914. Sitting on a rise, the trenches on the slopes surrounding it dominated the Allied positions. On 1st July 1916, the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, men from northern Pals battalions of the 31st Division attacked here achieving very little but suffering heavy losses. One epitaph on these men, from John Harris’ Covenant With Death, reads:
Two years in the making, ten minutes in the destruction… that was our history.
Serre is a special place to me as I interviewed several veterans who were here on 1st July 1916 including two that took part in the assault, and one – a signaller – had to stand close to where I filmed one part of this and watch his battalion, and people he had grown up with, be mowed down in No Man’s Land. It was them I was thinking of as I flew the drone across the battlefield here, starting from a point where the Leeds Pals attached at what is now Serre Road No 3 Cemetery across to where the Accrington Pals were at Queen’s Cemetery. In the final sequence Railway Hollow Cemetery is seen behind the copses and in the distance Luke Copse Cemetery.
Fantastic, Luke Copse is still one of my favourite places and the Gunstone brothers. Really evocative.
Haunting and resonates with the “pals”. These small cemeteries say more to me than the large concentration cemeteries – almost 100 years on and they continue to be so evocative.
A beautifull peacefull place,
Always interesting and so much more to learn.
Over the last thirty yearsI have walked these fields many times , in all seasons and in all weathers often with the late, wonderful Jack Horsfall.
Thanks – I met Jack several times over the years. Was just reading his Serre book again the other day.
I am in awe of your project and moved by your reverence for the soldiers who had to fight not just the enemy but also the terrain. The perspective is amazing. Tom