There was only one battalion from the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment involved on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
This was the Second (Regular) Battalion which was in the second wave of the 12th Brigade, 4th Division, attack towards Serre. Many of the casualties were killed before they even crossed their own frontline.
According to the Hon Secretary to the regiment Scott Flavings, the Second Battalion suffered three officers killed, 11 wounded, 44 soldiers killed, 251 wounded and 40 missing.
Scott, who is also the volunteer archivist, added: “This is a particularly light tally for any regiment involved on that day as some other regiments lost almost 1,000 killed, wounded and missing.”
The Duke of Wellington’s Territorial Battalions, 1/4th, 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th – all part of the 147 Brigade of 49th (West Riding) Division – were in Aveluy Wood, supporting the 36th Ulster Division which made a spirited attack but was forced back to the start line by the end of the day and were relieved by 49th Division battalions that night. A few Dukes were listed as casualties caused by shellfire.
The Service battalions – those raised as Kitchener’s Army units, many of them in September 1914 – the 8th, 9th and 10th, were in 32 Brigade, 11th (Northern) Division; 52 Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division and 69 Brigade, 23rd Division, respectively. 8th Bn was in transit from Gallipoli, via Egypt, at the beginning of July.
9th Bn was being held in reserve until July 3 when it went into action at Fricourt.
The 10th Bn was in transit from rest at Equines les Mines to Becourt Wood where it went into action to capture Scot’s Redoubt, an objective close to Contalmaison, on July 4.
The rest of the Somme battles were incredibly complicated which saw the introduction of the large gallery flame projector and tanks among other technology and tactical improvements. Huge mines were detonated with Hawthorne Ridge and the Lochnagar Crater being the best known these days.
The Duke of Wellington Regiment battalions, mainly the 4th and 5th, put in a major attack alongside two other battalions from 146 Brigade on September 3. Unfortunately, having reached the German third line, they were forced to withdraw to the start line at the edge of Thiepval Wood as 146 Brigade had not been able to advance in line.