A tragic waste on a monumental scale.
Those were the poignant words used to describe the huge losses suffered by Britain at the Somme 100-years-ago.
The British Army’s bloodiest day was remembered at a prestigious commemoration event at Huddersfield’s Army Reserve Centre on Friday.
The service was graced by military and civic dignitaries from across Yorkshire including the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Dr Ingrid Roscoe and Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter OBE, the last Colonel of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.
The event, which concluded with a rifles volley salute to remember Yorkshire’s victims of the bloody battle, featured poignant talks and a service led by Rev Canon David Wilkes CB OBE.
Military historian, Dr Peter Liddle, gave heart wrenching accounts of the soliders from Leeds, Wakefield and Huddersfield who went “over the top” to almost instant death in unbelievable numbers.
Hundreds from towns across West Yorkshire were killed in just few minutes with 19,000 in total slain in just two hours on the first day.
“How can we grasp such statistics today?” said Dr Liddle.
The “drumhead service” commemorated the 165 officers and 2,994 men from Yorkshire who were killed in action on July 1, 1916.
Yorkshire provided 62 battalions for the Somme and 35 of these fought on the first day.
Throughout the 141 days of the battle, seven Victoria Crosses were awarded to Yorkshire soldiers.
Members of the Light Infantry Buglers Association performed a fanfare for the Colours of the 4th Batatalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, which were brought in and draped over the drums before the religious service began.
Notable Huddersfield guests included the Mayor of Kirklees, Clr Jim Dodds a former Major in the Royal Signals and his wife Carol, Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney a veteran of the RAF and Huddersfield University Vice Chancellor, Bob Cryan CBE.
Soldier guests included Private Chris Allen, 32, of 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, who remembered his great-grandfather’s bravery during the First World War.
Bombardier Clement George Allen, of Conisbrough, fought at the Somme and Ypres – he survived the war, but died before Chris was born.
Chris, who has served in Afghanistan, said: “I feel incredibly proud to say that he contributed.
“It was a major point in history and he has been immortalised alongside everyone else involved.
“I just wish I could have met him and pulled up a sandbag to chat about his experiences during the war, to see how they compare to mine.
“My great-grandfather died before I was born and so all I have are second-hand memories from family.
“They all say he was a big man with hands like shovels and his heart matched them both.”