History

The First Battle of the Somme, a WWI Allied offensive waged in the villages and woodlands northeast of Amiens, was designed to relieve pressure on the beleaguered French troops at Verdun. On 1 July 1916, British, Commonwealth and French troops 'went over the top' in a massive assault along a 34km front. But German positions proved virtually unbreachable, and on the first day of the battle an astounding 19,240 British troops were killed and another 38,230 were wounded. Most casualties were infantrymen mown down by German machine guns. By the time the offensive was called off in mid-November, over one million men on both sides had been killed or wounded. The British had advanced 12km, the French 8km.