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Synopsis

The Battle of the Somme, which lasted from 1 July to 18 November 1916, is remembered as one of the most horrific and tragic battles of World War I. On the first day alone nearly 19,000 British troops were killed—the greatest one-day loss in the history of the British Army. By November the death toll from the armies of Britain, France, and Germany had risen to more than a million. This book tells the stories of 51 soldiers from the Commonwealth and Empire armies whose bravery on the battlefield was rewarded by the Victoria Cross, the highest military honor—men like Private Billy McFadzean, who was blown up by two grenades which he smothered in order to save the lives of his comrades, and Private "Todger" Jones, who single-handedly rounded up 102 German soldiers. Not only do we learn of heroic endeavors of these men at the height of battle, but we also read of their lives before 1914, ranging from the backstreets of Glasgow to a country house in Cheshire, and of what life was like after the war for the 33 survivors.

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