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.