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Edward Liveing was a twenty-year-old junior infantry officer when he led his platoon of the County of London Regiment from the trenches on the Somme in the third wave at Gommecourt at 730am plus 45 seconds on 1 July 1916. He worked for the BBC after the war and died in 1963.
There are many accounts of the Battle of the Somme by surviving British soldiers. But the Somme was not a single battle but a series of offensives and small localised attacks fought over four and a half months. What is etched into the British psyche is the huge loss of life suffered by the 'poor bloody infantry' on the first day of the Somme, 1 July 1916. The carnage was such that few survived to tell the tale of that first horrific day and the existing published memoirs are about later in the Battle or by non-infantry troops who while involved in the offensive, didn't actually go 'over the top'. What is also unique about Edward Liveing's vivid and detailed account is that it begins the evening before the attack and ends close to 24 hours later and is entirely focussed on the first day of the Somme. A young junior officer in the London Regiment on the battlefield that infamous day, he was in command of a platoon of about fifty men, when he scaled the crest of his trench into no-mans land.