More than 90 years after the Battle of the Somme it is still possible to
find the physical traces of the hundreds of thousands of men who fought
and died there in 1916. In 2007 a French family unearthed the identity disc of New Zealand soldier Richard Kemp, and in 2008 the disc was
Alex McColl had been a key member of the Wellington College First XV in 1909 and was a talented all-round sportsman. Like many of his school mates he was quick to enlist when the war broke out. He led a platoon at a landing in Gallipoli in 1915, participating in much of the heavy fighting there. He was wounded but returned to active service and was present at the evacuation in December 1915.
Following his death, Henry Nicholas was buried in the French cemetery at Beaudignies. However, as the battalion wished to show greater respect, his body was exhumed and reinterred, with full military honours, in the Vertigneul churchyard in northern France.
Tanks were used in battle for the first time, by the British, on 15 September. Still mechanically unreliable, the tanks were rushed into action in small groups. Many broke down, and the Germans soon devised ways to stop them.