Two of George's classmates are lost to poison gas at the Battle of the Somme, which took place over weeks during 1916. It involved an incredibly huge British artillery bombardment, meant to obliterate the German defenses, which was to be followed by a huge infantry attack. The bombardment was ineffective as the Germans were dug in too deep or beyond the range of the British guns. George's chums were "Titch" and 'Mr. Floppy" who were "gassed back to Blighty (Britain).