Field Marshal Douglas Haig was a senior officer of the British Army who, during the First World War, commanded the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front from late 1915 until the end of the war.
This day – Sunday 2nd July 1916 – was the second day of the Battle of the Somme and his diary entry shows that he knew about the casualty rate on the previous day – c57,000 killed or injured – but that he remained determined to press on. He wrote:
‘A day of downs and ups. I visit two casualty-clearing stations. They were very pleased at my visit, the wounded were in wonderful spirits. Reported today that total casualties are estimated at over 40,000. This cannot be considered severe in view of numbers engaged and the length of front of attack. By nightfall the situation is much more favorable than when we started today.’