Friday, 1 July 2016
The Battle of the Somme
A century ago the British Army under Haig launched the largest assault it had ever conducted, preceded by the most powerful artillery bombardment the Royal Artillery had ever made. The plan was that the sheer volume of shellfire would blast away the defences of the enemy, leaving them dead or too stunned to defend, and pulverising the barbed wire entanglements. This turned out not to be the case. The first day of fighting saw nearly 60,000 soldiers from Britain and her Empire killed. That figure excludes the losses of our French allies and our German opponents. The war would continue for more than another two years, by which time over 900,000 soldiers from Britain and her Empire were dead. Around 8.5 million soldiers died on both sides by the time the guns fell silent. Europe then paused for two decades before embarking on the rematch.