When war broke out in 1914, there was a widespread sense of optimism among the British public. Fired by patriotic fervour, many were convinced that 'it would all be over by Christmas' and young men rushed to join the army and share in the 'honour and glory' of war. These illusions were swiftly lost as a war of attrition developed, advances on both sides were small and casualties high. The slaughter of 1 July 1916 when thousands of British soldiers went 'over the top' to their deaths on the Somme shocked a world increasingly conditioned to the realities of armed conflict. Nicholas Thornicroft takes us into the heart of the British Army on the blackest day in its history and gives a vivid illustrated portrayal of rank and file Gloucestershire and north Bristol soldiers in the heat of battle.