July 1. The First Day of the Somme began with high hopes
but ended as the worst day in the history of the British Army.
After a huge week-long artillery barrage, British troops went
over the top to attack German trenches on the chalk slopes north
of the River Somme in France.
But the shelling had failed to damage the German dugouts, some
30 feet deep, and the defending machine gunners were presented
with the unbelievable targets of wave upon wave of khaki-clad
soldiers walking uphill towards them. The slaughter began. In
a matter of hours, 20,000 young Britons were dead and 40,000 wounded.
The Battle of the Somme raged until it bogged down in the November
mud, by which time Britain and Germany had each suffered about
500,000 casualties. The Somme became a byword for needless slaughter
and the death of idealism.
15. The first tanks rolled into action on the Western Front.
To disguise these top-secret "land ships," they had been referred
to as water tanks. The name stuck. At first, the lumbering tanks
struck terror into German troops as they crushed the barbed wire
and trenches which had proved so impregnable in earlier battles.
But the Germans were hard, experienced fighters who quickly learned
that a determined field-gun crew could knock out tank after tank,
especially when they were used piecemeal and without infantry
May 31. At the Battle of Jutland, the only major naval
engagement of the First World War, the main British and German
fleets traded broadsides during a day and a night. The Germans
sank twice as many ships as the Royal Navy and claimed victory.
The truth was rather different. Despite taking a mauling, the
Royal Navy held the North Sea for the rest of the war. The Kaiser's
fleet never again ventured out into the open sea..
Dudley Quarter Sessions began with only one case, a theft,
to be heard.
Walsall Rural District Council heard complaints from farmers
who couldn't employ children to pick potatoes without first
filling forms "asking every conceivable question."
A Walsall couple were prosecuted for neglecting their five
children, two of whom were found to have rickets.The husband
was sentenced to six months' hard labour.
A house in North Street, Wolverhampton, was demolished by
a runaway fruit and vegetable wagon.
One of the biggest fires in Shrewsbury's history lit up
the Midland sky. James Cock and Sons tannery went up in
a blaze so enormous that locals "thought the Zeppelins had
come." Damage was put at 50,000 - many millions in today's