The terrain around the Somme was made up primarily of chalk, which the Germans had found well-suited for trench warfare, including a deep networks of fortified trenches, complete with rear supply fortifications and buried communication lines. “The German doctrine was that not a single yard of ground should be surrendered and the French and the British were determined to never stop the attack,” says Spencer Jones, senior lecturer in Armed Forces and War Studies at University of Wolverhampton. Ghastly is correct. It lies in the valley of the River Somme, at the confluence of the River Ancre.The town is bisected by the Canal de la Somme.. The Battle of the Somme is considered one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare with over one million casualties. Hundreds of letters sent by British First World War soldiers have been released to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, giving insight into … July 14, 1916. The Somme is named for its river, with an immense estuary where it empties into the Channel. We didn’t have to aim, we just fired into them.”, Despite the shockingly heavy losses of July 1, General Haig and other military leaders resumed the attacks the next day – and the next. Soldiers cross the river Ancre during the Allied attack on Thiepval Ridge. Famed since the Middle Ages are its textile industry and its great Gothic cathedral of … The Battle of the Somme, says Gary Sheffield, Professor of War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton, “was a ghastly human experience,” but, he says, “it was not futile and it provided a stepping stone to victory in 1918.”. Indian cavalry of the British army. 1916. Oct 4, 2019 - Photos from an October 2013 trip to the Somme River valley area of northeastern France--on a visit to the battlefields. All Rights Reserved. Geography. Soldiers gather near a Mark I tank at Flers. The Somme is commonly thought of as a ground offensive – but it was conducted from the air too. A man builds barbed wire obstacles on the Somme. On July 1, 1916, after a week of prolonged artillery bombardment, 11 divisions of the British Fourth Army (recently created and placed under Sir Henry Rawlinson) began the attack north of the Somme on a front extending for 15 miles (24 km) from Serre and Beaumont-Hamel southward past Thiepval, Ovillers, and Fricourt (east of Albert) and then eastward and … November, 1916. The river is 245 km (152 mi) long, from its source in the high ground of the former Forest of Arrouaise at Fonsommes near Saint-Quentin, to the Bay of the Somme, in the English Channel. The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of World War I, and among the bloodiest in all of human history. September, 1916. September, 1916. In December 1915, Allied commanders had met to discuss strategies for the following year and agreed to launch a joint French and British attack in the region of the River Somme in the summer of 1916. British soldiers eat hot rations in the Ancre Valley. The operation went ahead, despite repeated postponements, largely because it was hoped that a late British success might create a favourable impression at the inter-Allied conference at Chantilly on 15 November. On July 1, 1916, the first shots were fired in what would become one of the bloodiest engagements in human history, the 141-day Battle of the Somme. British General Sir Douglas Haig ordered a week-long artillery bombardment of more than a million shells starting on June 24. A school of thought holds that the Battle of the Somme placed unprecedented strain on the German army and that after the battle it was unable to replace casualties like-for-like, which reduced it to a militia. We mixed emotions we would leave the next day. It was fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire and it took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. In fact, more than half of the artillery shells failed to detonate, most of the German dugouts remained undamaged and their wire barricades remained largely intact. The original Allied estimate of casualties on the Somme, made at the Chantilly Conference on 15 November 1916, was 485,000 British and French casualties and 630,000 German. As British and French infantry went “over the top” of their trenches starting at 7:30 a.m., expecting little German resistance, they were mowed down by German artillery and machine gun fire. They remain pock-marked and scarred by the intense fighting at places like Verdun and the Somme… A war of attrition was a logical strategy for Britain against Germany, which was also at war with France and Russia. Villers-Bretonneux Australian National Memorial links , , (Australian Government site) Tank Memorial, Pozières (link from GreatWar.co.uk) Anne Frank’s father Otto, Hitler, Wilfred Owen and JRR Tolkien all took part in the Battle of the Somme. By mid-September the British were ready to assault the German third line of defences with a new weapon, the tank. A combination of a compact battlefield, destructive modern weaponry and several failures by British military leaders led to the unprecedented slaughter of wave after wave of young men. the things people will do in the name of country. … The continental powers had begun the war with trained armies of regulars and reservists, which were wasting assets. Find what to do today, this weekend, or in January. These experiences are best for tours in Somme: WWI Small-Group Day Trip Somme Battlefields with John Monash Centre from Paris; Private Canadian WW1 Vimy & Somme Battlefield Tour from Arras or Lille; Australian and New Zealand Battlefield Day Tour in the Somme from Lille or Arras; Full-Day Canadian WW1 Vimy and Somme Battlefield Tour from Arras Artillery barrages light up the sky during the attack on Beaumont Hamel. But there was no question of suspending the offensive with the French still heavily engaged at Verdun. In 1916, the British and French intended to launch a large-scale offensive along the Somme River. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! July 2, 1916. Davidson was already 68 years old at the start of WW1, but his son James was an officer, who was killed on the Somme. The hail of shells was intended to wipe out German barbed wire, front line trenches, artillery—and the morale of the German army. At exactly 7.30 in the morning, 100 years ago today, thousands of British soldiers went “over the top” towards enemy lines in the lowlands surrounding the French river Somme. The only substantial British success was in the south where, using more imaginative tactics and helped by the French artillery on their immediate right, the 18th and 30th Divisions took all their objectives and the 7th Division captured Mametz. By the 141-day battle’s end, the Allies and Central powers suffered more than a million casualties combined. The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was one of the largest battles of the First World War. The campaign, staged along an 18-mile stretch around the Somme River in France, was a joint French and British offensive to expel German forces. It’s fitting that the River Somme, site of one of the bloodiest battles of WW1, at last fully incorporates the trench as a central aspect of its design. July 23, 1916. 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