The Battle of the Somme - The 12 Battles of the Somme (1 July - 18 November, 1916) - CWGC

Historical debate about the rate of advance and weight-load carried by British infantry on 1 July continues and doubt has recently been thrown on the Official History's claim that the total burden of equipment carried by individual infantrymen amounted to 66lbs (30kg). Men of the Wiltshire Regiment advancing to the attack through the wire, ThiepvalContemporary photographic evidence, which is certainly not at odds with the detailed itemisation of kit provided by the official historian, also reveals local variations in loads carried, reflecting the allocated role or specialisms of the troops involved. There is no doubt that considerable numbers of the attackers were heavily-laden with vital tactical-support equipment - including bombs (grenades), small arms ammunition, Lewis gun equipment and ammunition, trench mortar ammunition and accessories, sand bags, picks and shovels and heavy coils of barbed wire. Even the 36th Divisional history, commenting on the heroic assault of the Schwaben Redoubt, includes references to the heavy loads carried forward by its attacking battalions and the measured pace at which, of necessity, the advance began.

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