Battle of the Somme

This tune commemorates one of the bloodiest battles of the first world war. The "big push" began on 1st July 1916. On the first day 100,000 allied troops assembled at their marshalling points and then at 07:30 hours marched out, shoulder to shoulder, into no-man's land and towards the entrenched German positions. The grand set-piece offensive quickly degenerated into wholesale slaughter. The allied casualties on this first day alone were nearly 60,000 (20,000 of which were fatal). The Somme offensive did little to affect the outcome of the War and by the time the offensive ended in November the allied casualties were over 600,000. The tune itself was composed shortly afterwards by Pipe Major William Lawrie of the 8th Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. It was commonly regarded as the best composition of the First World War. Unfortunately Pipe Major Lawrie died later that year of illness, aged just 35, after being invalided home. His pipes and other items are still on display in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Museum in Stirling Castle.