World History

Battle of the Somme | World War I

One of the largest conflicts that took place during World War I was the Battle of the Somme. It lasted from July 1 to November 18 of 1916 and was in France close to the Somme River.

At the Battle of the Somme, who participated?

The Allies (British and French) and the German Empire fought each other in this conflict. The Battle of the Somme was where many British soldiers engaged in their first combat. Because Lord Kitchener recruited them, they were a component of the volunteer force known as Kitchener’s force. Because volunteers were assured to be assigned to battalions with their friends and neighbours, these units within the army were known as Pal’s battalions.

Who were the leaders?

Sir Douglas Haig served as the commander in chief for the British. French General Ferdinand Foch and British General Henry Rawlinson were among the other Allied commanders. General Rupprecht, the Bavarian Crown Prince, General Max von Gallwitz, and General Fritz von Below were among the German commanders.

Leading up to the Battle

Following the First Battle of the Marne, the two sides had been fighting in trenches throughout the western front for almost two years. The front hadn’t much changed. To break the deadlock and drive the Germans out of France, the British and French were preparing a significant offensive onslaught at the Somme.

But when the Germans launched an offensive against the French at the Battle of Verdun, their plans were altered. To fend off the Germans, French troops were dispatched to Verdun. In an effort to lure German forces away from Verdun and towards the Somme, the French also urged that the British move up the offensive at the Somme from August 1 to July 1.

Artillery Barrage

The Allies started by shelling the German positions prior to the real invasion. They thought that by bombarding the German fortifications, the soldiers would be able to march in and seize control. For eight days straight, they continuously pounded the Germans with 3,000 guns. More than 1,600,000 rounds were fired.

The bombardment was, however, announced to the Germans. They found refuge and awaited. The German defences suffered little actual damage, and many British shells were useless and never even detonated.

The Battle

The commanders of the Allies refused to heed the message that the bombardment had failed. On July 1, 1916, they decided to launch the attack after eight days. Numerous British troops emerged from their trenches and started to move towards the German lines. The Germans had no trouble shooting them dead. The worst day in British military history occurred on that day. They lost almost 60,000 people overall, including 20,000 on the opening day of combat.

The Allies persisted in their offensive despite suffering significant losses. They continued the assault until November 18 before halting. They gained almost seven miles of area during that time, but they also lost over 623,000 people, including 423,000 Britons and 200,000 French. There were almost 500,000 casualties for the Germans.

The Battle of the Somme was one of the worst engagements in human history, with over 1,000,000 total losses on both sides.


Modern historians contest the significance of the conflict. Some contend that British Commander Haig wasted men and materials on an ineffective strategy. Others contend that in order to relieve the French at the Battle of Verdun, he was forced to move forward with the attack.

Interesting details about the Somme battle

The British Pals battalions consisted largely of soldiers from the same town, therefore when a battalion was destroyed, it frequently meant that all the men from that particular town in Britain had perished.

The Battle of the Somme saw the introduction of tank combat.

The British leadership instructed the attacking forces to walk because they were so sure the German defences had been demolished. These troops were killed by gunfire in a flash.

Nearly 89,000 men were sacrificed by the Allies for every mile of new land.

Because of the region’s extensive snowfall, the attack came to an end in November.