Battle of the Somme

A large mine placed by a British tunneling unit explodes under German positions on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. At the time it was one of the largest explosions ever and one of the loudest man-made noises.
A large mine placed by a British tunneling unit explodes under German positions on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. At the time it was one of the largest explosions ever and one of the loudest man-made noises.

Historical Context

The Battle of the Somme was both the largest battle on the Western Front of World War I and one of the deadliest in history, with more than a million casualties. The plan was laid at the Chantilly Conference in December 1915 - the Allied forces would take the pressure off French forces at the Battle of Verdun by pushing through the German lines at the Somme.

As with many grueling World War I encounters the battle was neither conclusive or quick. The first day of the battle - 1 July 1916 - was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army, with more than 57,000 casualties.

While the Allied forces had pushed 10km (6 mi) into German territory by the battle's end, they had not seized the French towns of PĂ©ronne or Bapaume, and debate exists over whether the battle was necessary or militarily significant.

The tank was first premiered at the Somme - although early units could only go 4 miles (6 km) per hour and often broke down.

Photo Info


Photographer: Ernest Brooks
Date taken: July 1, 1916
Location taken: Hawthorne Ridge Redoubt, Somme, France

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1916-06-30 British General Douglas Haig reports "The men are in splendid spirits" the day before the Battle of the Somme began
  • 1916-07-01 First day of the Battle of the Somme: the British Army suffers its worst day, losing 19,240 men (WWI)
  • 1916-10-05 Adolf Hitler is wounded in the left thigh by an exploding shell during the Battle of the Somme
  • 1916-11-18 British General Douglas Haig finally calls off the 1st Battle of the Somme in World War I after more than 1 million soldiers had been killed or wounded

Historical Photos