The Barnsley Pals on The Somme

Using authentic archive footage, this film recreates the story of the Barnsley Pals brief intervention
in the Battle of the Somme. It shows the depth of the sacrifice the town made in the First World
War, and its determination to remember and learn from the event, bringing 1916 into conjunction
with 2016, when Barnsley remembered the anniversary of Battle and the lives that were lost. The 16 th July 1916 was the first day of the Battle of the Somme, between the German forces occupying Northern France and British troops who had been rapidly conscripted and trained to replace the British Expeditionary Force of regular soldiers who had begun Allied resistance to the German advance in 1914. Kitchener’s new army numbered two million men, almost all of them raw recruits carried forward on a wave of national sentiment. Among them were two battalions, The Barnsley Pals, recruited here in the town and trained nearby. On the first morning of the Battle, the Barnsley Pals Battalions went into action to advance with other British infantry on the German lines.

The attack followed weeks of non-stop bombardment of the German bunkers and barbed wire lines. It was a massacre.

The bombardment had not knocked out the German bunkers, nor had it seriously damaged the wire. The advancing British were mown down, many at a distance of nearly a mile, by the German machine gunners. The British army suffered 45,000 casualties in a single day. The Barnsley Pals battalions lost more than two thirds of their men in a couple of hours, and were never reformed.

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