The 24th Northumberland Fusiliers went over the top at 5:30 a.m. Just after 6 a.m., Lt. Col. Edward “Robert” Hermon followed his men, crossing open ground still swept by distant German guns. The bullet went through the papers in his pocket, through the picture of his wife and children and the clover Ethel had given him for luck, and then through his heart. He was dead by the time “Buckin,” his servant of many years, found him.
By then Lt. Victor Richardson of the 9th King’s Royal Rifles had already been shot through the arm. The wound was quickly bandaged and he continued to lead his platoon forward. They had reached the second German line when he was shot again. This bullet entered the left side of his face and tore across the front of his skull, coming to a stop behind and above his right eye.
As the infantry continued their advance the British artillery slackened its fire, and Edward Thomas came out into the doorway of the Observation Post dugout to light his clay pipe. The shell passed so close to his body that the shock wave left ripples in the pages of his war diary and stopped his heart. His pipe fell, unbroken, and he was dead.