Blog: Sarah Cooper @SarahCooperITV
Even on a beautiful, sunny day - High Wood, in Northern France, has an eerie feel about it. A hundred years ago, this was one of the most fiercely contested positions on the front line and this is where Private Raymond Percival, from Rushden in Northamptonshire, found himself in 1916.
We hear a lot about the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when there were thousands of casualties, but the fighting went on for months. By September 1916, the Germans had managed to hold on to High Wood, despite various attacks by the Allies.
As its name suggests, High Wood is on high ground, with panoramic views and it's not hard to see why it was so difficult to attack successfully. But, on the afternoon of September 9th, 1916, Raymond and the rest of 1st Battalion, The Northamptonshire Regiment, started their attempt.
"A crater has been blown in the German front line and a few of them manage to get to the lip of the crater. But, by the end of the day, the attack has failed to take the wood and the fields would've been littered with the dead and wounded men from Northamptonshire."
men from Northamptonshire killed or injured that night
"I know a few people who, especially in the dark, in the evening, they don't want to pass High Wood, because, there's still about 7,000 Allied soldiers and German soldiers still lying in the woods, because after the war it was so dangerous to go inside, they just put a fence around it."
During the attack, Raymond was shot in the leg and taken to hospital in Southampton, where he later died. He was 20. His body was brought back to his home town of Rushden and buried in the town's cemetery.
Less than a year after they married, Raymond's new wife Rebecca, became a widow.
But, the person who sent me the picture below, is proof that Rebecca wasn't the only person Raymond left behind...
Watch ITV News Anglia at 6pm tonight to follow Ray's final moments on the front line and find out why some of his family are in for a surprise... Or, check back here after the programme, to watch the final piece in our Somme Soldier series.