Day: May 18, 2021

Wounded Scot’s first-person account details fighting, capture at the Somme
Defence Today, Front Lines

Wounded Scot’s first-person account details fighting, capture at the Somme

Imagine you are a Scottish soldier and you’re handed a pair of wire cutters, then told to cross no man’s land and open the wire in front of the German trenches in the midst of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. Those were the orders given to Private James Arthur Heysham Johnstone of the 5th Battalion (Scottish Rifles)—known as the Cameronians—near Mametz Wood on the night of July 19-20, 1916. It was less than three weeks into the 141-day Somme offensive and the losses had already been staggering. Johnstone’s 19th Brigade, along with the 33rd Division of the British Expeditionary Force, was tasked to take a forested high ground occupied by the enemy about 3.5 kilometres behind Mametz Wood “at all costs.” The wood itself had been won by the 38th (Welsh) Division the w...

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