Unfortunately the assumption that the Germans would have wilted under the bombardment proved to be without foundation. The germans had dug trenches 15 metres deep and reinforced their positions with concrete. The five day bombardment had been wasteful and achieved nothing. This was as nothing compared to the waste of life on July 1st. The advancing British troops were literally mown down by German machine gunners. The losses were devastating. The Middlesex regiment, for example, sent out 740 men and lost 622 in the first 10 minutes. This information did not get back to headquarters in time and a second wave of men was sent out even as it was obvious that they would die in this carnage. 20,000 British soldiers lost their lives on that first day and a further 40000 were wounded. Even more astonishing as we read about it 100 years later was that Haig refused to listen to reports that the offensive was not successful and repeated the same tactics on July 2nd.
The fighting continued, albeit with more realistic caution by the generals. The battle continued for the month with virtually no change of positions but with massive loss of life. Some local men were involved in this battle and here are some reports at first hand from that terrible month.