I had the great pleasure to meet Martin Middlebrook at a Western Front Association in Northampton during 2015. Martin signed my new second copy of the First Day; to sit alongside the well read signed first edition copy he gave to my grandad.
I also picked up the Battlefield Guide, written by Martin and his late wife. I thoroughly recommend this book to new visitors to the area, or those returning after many previous trips. I’m not sure every visitor finds a section that is quite so personally intimate, but here’s mine for Martin and Mary’s thoughts on Triangle Point in Montauban:-
“This was the position reached by the 17th Manchesters (2nd Manchester Pals) in the late morning of 1 July. The Manchester men fired on German infantry fleeing across the wide valley in front and on artillerymen trying to save their guns. [When I got to the far end of Montauban I laid down and fired at a retreating German gun team who were dragging their gun away by a rope. I well remember adjusting my aim for the weight of the bayonet, as taught. (Pte A. A. Bell, 2nd Manchester Pals)*] I regard Triangle Point as one of the most important places on the battlefield. It represents the culmination of the success of the British right wing on 1 July, a success that was completely unexpected by General Rawlinson whose diary shows that he had little confidence in the 30th Division, which he nearly replaced in the line before the battle. The unexpectedness of the success here is one reason why no immediate exploitation was attempted, even thought cavalry were available.[We had been told that if we made our three miles the cavalry would follow through with thirty miles. (Pte A. A. Bell, 2nd Manchester Pals)**]
* Pg 182 First Day on the Somme.
** Pg 287
Here’s the blurb:-
While best known as being the scene of the most terrible carnage in the WW1 the French department of the Somme has seen many other…