A map showing the area of operations of the 17th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916.
The 17th Battalion endured a baptism of fire on the Somme. It took the first German line, the Leipzig Trench, but attempts to advance further were met by devastating fire. By 9 o'clock Battalion casualties amounted to twenty-two officers and 400 other ranks. This experience was repeated along the line, with the British army suffering 57,470 casualties among the 120,000 soldiers who left the trenches that morning. Some 21,000 men were killed, most in the first 30 minutes of the attack.
The Battalion's first Victoria Cross was awarded (posthumously) to Sergeant James Yuill Turnbull that day. Having captured a strategically vital section of the Leipzig Redoubt, his men were subjected to a series of fierce counter attacks. Turnbull held the position but was killed late in the day.
Reference: Mitchell Library, GC 356.1 HIG
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning
17th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, Battle of the Somme, British Army, First World War, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, HLI, Leipzig Redoubt, Leipzig Trench, medals, VCs, Victoria Crosses