The Battle of the Somme was one of the defining events of the First World War. fought in northern France between July and November 1916, it was one of the largest and bloodiest battles in human history. Over a million men were killed or wounded, making it one of the deadliest battles in modern history.
The battle was fought by the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It is named after the River Somme, which flows through the battlefield. The battle was intended to be a decisive victory for the Allies, but it ultimately resulted in a costly stalemate.
In the months leading up to the battle, both sides conducted extensive preparations. The British built a network of trenches and tunnels, while the Germans constructed strong defensive positions.
On July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme began with a massive artillery bombardment followed by a British infantry advance. The attack was met with fierce German resistance and heavy casualties. Over the next few months, both sides continued to fight in what became a brutal slogging match.
By November 1916, the battle had finally come to an end. In total, over one million men had been killed or wounded. Although it was a costly stalemate, the Battle of the Somme ultimately resulted in Allied gains and helped pave the way for their eventual victory in 1918.
The Allied assault on the German lines near the border of Switzerland and Belgium had begun in earnest. The fighting soon devolved into trench warfare, with no progress for either side. The Generals decided to focus their efforts on the weaker parts of the German defenses in order to launch an all-out offensive.
A forty-eight hour barrage was unleashed on these locations, but bad weather caused it to extend to seven days of continual shelling. The goal was to destroy as much barbed wire as possible and a large number of Germans.
There was minimal progress and by the end of the first day, there were over nineteen thousand British casualties. In total, there were over one million casualties in the Battle of the Somme with no significant breakthrough achieved. This battle was one of the bloodiest in human history.
The First World War was fought between 1914 and 1918. It was fought by the armies of the British Empire and the French Third Republic, against the German Empire and its allies.
The Battle of the Somme was a key battle of the First World War, fought between July and November 1916. The battle was fought by the British and French armies against the German Empire.
The battle resulted in over one million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. There was no significant breakthrough achieved by either side.
The British plan was overheard by the Germans, who subsequently leaked it to the French. The Germans dug deep trenches and practiced loading their machine guns fast. They were prepared for anything the British and French could throw at them. In fact, less than a third of the shells exploded, and even fewer hit no man’s land or unused trenches.
After seven days of continuous shelling, most of the six foot high barbed wire remained standing and in good shape. The British generals, who thought that shedding blood would bring victory, were preparing for the final attack: a tremendous push.
On the first day of the Somme, British soldiers went ‘over the top’ and into no man’s land. The Germans had been expecting this and mowed them down with their machine guns. In just one day, the British lost 19,240 men, with a further 38,230 wounded. It was the worst day in British military history.
The battle raged on for four months, with both sides slowly and painfully making their way towards their objectives. In the end, the British and French advanced six miles (9.7 km), at a cost of over a million casualties. Of these, 400,000 were killed outright. For the British Empire alone, it was its bloodiest ever battle.
Despite being one of the bloodiest battles in human history, the Battle of the Somme is often overshadowed by other events of the First World War. It is remembered as a symbol of the horrific cost of war and the futility of trench warfare. The battle also had a significant impact on public opinion at home, with many people questioning why young men were being asked to die in such large numbers for so little gain.
At 7:22 a.m., the Germans were attacked by the biggest man-made explosion of the war, detonated beneath them. Almost half of the mine did not explode or exploded in the face of the minelayers, which was very unfortunate. Six minutes later, after an earsplitting barrage had stopped, strange sounds could be heard for the first time in over a week as thousands of individuals trekked over the top.
The men had to walk through their own wire which had not been cut by the bombardment. This was due to the fact that the British shells were falling short, due to the number of miscalculations. The German machine guns then opened fire on the slow moving men, mowing them down by their hundreds. When it seemed that all was lost for Britain, the New Zealanders and Canadians went in on a flanking manoeuvre and took out the majority of the machine gunners, allowing the British troops to advance.
By nightfall, they had only managed to take two miles of ground at a cost of nearly 20,000 casualties with over half of those being killed outright. Day two wasn’t any better as they tried to push forward again, only to be met with more machine gun fire, this time from the Germans who had retreated to their second line of trenches.
The First World War was a global conflict that raged for four years, as the British and French armies battled with the German Empire. The Battle of the Somme cost nearly one million lives on both sides but yielded no significant breakthroughs or territory gains.
It’s often overshadowed by other events in First World War history, but it is remembered as an example of senseless trench warfare and its horrific toll on soldiers. Indeed, while many people lost their lives during the First World War, those who survived were forever changed…