Epworth Men’s Society hears of Battle of The Somme

Bob Fish
Bob Fish

A talk entitled The Somme was given when some 40-plus members of the Epworth Men’s Society held their first meeting - an annual dinner at the town’s Red Lion Hotel - to start their 2016 to 2017 season.

The talk was given by Bob Fish, a former head teacher at an Isle school and an amateur historian, who said that World War 1 had been a consuming passion of his since he was a little boy.

“The British military knew there would be heavy losses for what was know as ‘the big push’ in 1916 - the planning for which had started late in 1915,” said Mr Fish.

It turned out to be the biggest loss of men the British and Commonwealth troops suffered in a single day, with some 60,000 men being killed, injured or taken prisoner, he explained.

Mr Fish said that there had been a bombardment but this had failed to destroy the German barbed wire ahead of their trenches and, in addition, a third of all the shells fired turned out to be duds.

He explained that about 60 percent of all British and Commonwealth officers were killed on the first day of battle, which itself went on for four-and-a-half months.

“Some 40 men from the Isle died during this time, which saw more than a million men from both sides lose their lives,” said Mr Fish.

The Society holds monthly meetings from now through to May 2017 and anyone interested in finding our more is asked to call Ken Bickerstaff on (01427) 872288.