Nelson and the Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme, fought in northern France, was one of the bloodiest of World War One. For five months, from 1 July – 26 October 1916, the British and French armies fought the Germans in a brutal battle of attrition on a 24km front. The aims of the battle were to relieve the French Army fighting at Verdun and to weaken the German Army. However, the Allies were unable to break through German lines. In total, there were over one million dead and wounded on all sides.

New Zealand forces were committed on 15 September and withdrawn on 26 October. The Somme was New Zealand’s first major engagement on the western front. It was on the Somme that the majority of New Zealanders were killed or wounded during the First World War.  Around 6,000 New Zealand men were wounded and more than 2,100 lost their lives, which represented four in ten of the division who fought being wounded, and one in seven killed.

The Battle of Longueval, 15 September, was on the first day of engagement, and saw the greatest loss of Nelson troops. As a mark of respect for those from the Nelson Region who served not just on the Somme, but in all war zones during World War One. a Wall of Honour has been established in the old Fernery at Founders Park. The Nelson Region at that time included Tasman as well as Nelson.  The Wall of Honour was originally created for Nelson Provincial Museum as a World War One Commemorative project.  Below are listed deaths that occurred on 15/16 September 2016:

Deaths from Nelson                     

Boundy, Stanley T.W.     
Byrne, Robert J.             
Flowers, Francis L.          
Garbett, Alfred L.            
Hunter, Frederick T.
Jennings, Lancelot S.
King, Victor B.
Levy, Arthur M.
Nottage, Donald B.
Peart, Alfred C.
Sowman, William
Coombs, James F.H.
Haase, Owen L.
Hudson, Francis C.
Humphreys, Frederick J.
Knight, Ernest P.
Manoy, Reginald L.
Mason, Victor M.J.
Rosie, Donald W.

Stories from local men who fought at the Somme