8th September 1916

6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment fought at the Somme

The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry wasn’t formed until December 1916, so before this date volunteers from Guernsey were assigned, en masse, to existing regiments elsewhere. Many were attached to the 6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, which fought at the Somme in September 1916.

Nineteen Guernseymen were killed in the battle in early September, or died later of their wounds.

Lasting 141 days, from July to November 1916, the Battle of the Somme was one of the fiercest and most wasteful battles of the whole First World War. Fought by the British Empire and France against the German Empire, it cost more than 650,000 French and British lives, and up to 500,000 German lives – an average of more than 800 per day.

Yet, for so much bloodshed, the outcome was inconclusive.

Aim of the battle

The Battle of the Somme, or Somme Offensive, was part of a coordinated effort by the British Empire, France, Russian and Italian armies to defeat the Central Powers (pricipally Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire). It was focused on the area around the Somme River.

The British goal was to relieve some of the pressure that the French forces at Verdun were under, and to inflict losses on the enemy. These losses would be both human and physical. Haig, the commander of the British forces, had plans to capture territory that was, at that time, held by Germany. He had wanted to take 25km within the first five days.

However, the first day of the battle was to prove the most deadly of any that British troops had ever fought. Almost 60,000 men had been wounded before it drew to a close, around a third of whom died.

This should perhaps have hinted at what was to come. As the losses mounted over the next five months, neither side gained a great deal. The German troops weren’t pushed back as far as might have been hoped. The major outcome for both sides would seem to have been the death toll they inflicted on each other.

 

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Other events that occured in September

Channel Television took to the air 1st
A Guernseyman cycled to Herm 2nd
Brecqhou was put up for sale 3rd
Renoir arrived on Guernsey to paint 4th
Ship sinks in St Sampson harbour 5th
The melon king died… long live the melon king 6th
Coronavirus returns to Guernsey 7th
HD Ferries makes its last crossing
6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment fought at the Somme 8th
Guernsey number plate sold for £240,000 9th
Guernsey hosted the second Island Games 10th
Major Guernsey employer Tektronix went public 11th
Guernsey was struck by a hurricane 12th
Schoolboys and teacher went missing off Sark 13th
Guernsey holidaymakers head home itching 14th
The title Baron de Saumarez was created 15th
Missing girl, Jetta, was found on Guernsey 16th
Archaeologists found a porpoise grave 17th
An Islander aircraft crashed in Guernsey 18th
Guernsey commando Hubert Nicolle died 19th
Guernsey and Jersey considered merging 20th
Occupation resister Winifred Green was deported 21st
The Devil’s Rock had its opening night 22nd
The Duke of Connaught visited Guernsey 23rd
Former bailiff Daniel de Lisle Brock died 24th
Occupation president Ambrose Sherwill died 25th
Trudy, Guernsey’s biggest ever import, was installed 26th
“Let em starve,” said Churchill 27th
A Guernsey planning dispute headed to Europe 28th
Herm tenant Major Peter Wood died 29th
Spotlight was broadcast for the first time 30th