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1916 - Battle of the Somme


Title: 1916 - Battle of the Somme


About: In the devastating trench warfare of the First World War, no fighting was as bloody or infamous as the Battle for the Somme. 


In July, to relieve pressure on French lines, 14 British divisions launched an offensive after a massive artillery bombardment designed to pound the Germans into submission.  However, the defenders were not particularly damaged by the artillery barrage, with the tangles of barbed wire uncut and strong entrenched positions intact. As the infantry advanced across No-Man's Land, they were met by a storm of machine-gun, rifle and artillery fire. They suffered 57,000 casualties during the first day alone.


Attacks continued through the summer, mostly on a series of individual objectives, with the Germans frequently mounting counter-attacks of their own. The ‘Big Push’ became a slow, grinding struggle of attrition. 


In November, after the weather had deteriorated, Field Marshal Haig shut down the offensive. For an advance of 13km the British Empire had suffered 420,000 casualties and the French 200,000. German losses were at least 450,000 killed and wounded. 

The Battle of the Somme — especially its devastating first day — exemplified the carnage, slaughter and military incompetence of the First World War.  British officers, especially Haig, would be criticized for continuing the offensive in spite of such devastating losses. However, a more professional and effective army emerged from the battle. The tactics developed at The Somme, including the use of tanks and creeping barrages, laid some of the foundations of the Allies’ successes in 1918.

Decade: 1910s

Year: 1916

Region: Europe

Country: France + UK + Germany

Conflict: World War I

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 9

Artist: Bryan Willian 


Group: Genesis

Number: 16/100

Price: 0.9 ETH


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