Trinity remembers the Somme
As this month’s edition of Trinity News is published we will all be very much aware of the centenary on 1st July of the start of the Battle of the Somme. This day saw the greatest carnage for the first day of a battle at any time in our history.
This battle was planned to be a huge assault by the British and their French allies on the German lines in an attempt to bring to an end nearly two years of war.
The day started with massive explosions of mines in the Somme area of France. Apparently these could be heard from London. It was followed by advances on the German trenches, but the Germans were ready and the British and French troops were slaughtered in their tens of thousands.
Among the dead that day was Herbert Mackenzie, aged about 28.
Herbert Mackenzie was the son of Trinity members who lived in Quicks Road and he grew up through the Sunday School. He joined the ‘Tyneside Scottish’ battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. Herbert wrote for the last time to his parents on the 30th June, knowing that a big initiative was imminent. In the great battle which began next day he was posted as “missing”; but subsequently there was no doubt that he had been killed with so many others – 584 from his own Brigade and about 19,200 British men – that day.
In fact the Battle of the Somme not only failed to bring a swift conclusion to the war, but it raged on for another five months finally ending on 18th November. In all that time the allies only gained ten miles of ground from the Germans. The total number killed in the battle reached 1,115,000 of whom 485,000 were British and French. This included two more Trinity men, Eric Dunfee Meredith and Frederick Atkinson.
All these Trinity men are named on our brass War Memorial in the church and Herbert and Fred, as former Sunday School scholars, are commemorated on the wooden memorial used by the Chinese group every Sunday. As none of them has a known grave they are listed on the vast Thiepval Memorial which overlooks the Somme battlefields.