2nd Lieutenant N L Alexander gave up his life for King and Country on July 1st 1916 – he was just one of 20,000 British soldiers who died that day. July 1st was the first day of the great Somme offensive. The 9th & 10th Battalions, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, were part of 64 Brigade entrenched in front of the French village of Fricourt; they were chosen to lead the attack on a 2 mile long, well-defended, trench (given the objective name of Crucifix) 150yards ahead of them beyond no mans land. They were to be supported by the 1st East Yorks and the 15th Battalion Durham Light infantry.
The preliminary barrage on the enemy trenches was sheduled to lift at 07.30am, but the two lead battalions chose to move foward into no mans land under the barrage, and by the time it had stopped they were well advanced and had won a considerable advantage. The Crucifix trenches were overun within 10 minutes from the start, but at great cost in men’s lives including that of 2nd Lt Noel Legard Alexander. More than half of the two leading battalions, including most of their officers, had fallen. Speaking after the battle Brig-Gen Headlum who commanded the 64th Brigade remarked “During the advance over no mans land the men never hesitated and went straight on in gallant fashion”.