Battle of the Somme

Three 8 inch howitzers of 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), firing from the Fricourt-Mametz Valley during the Battle of the Somme, August 1916 during World War I

The British launched a major attack against the Germans, using gas for the first time. In the first day of the battle, the British lost 50,000 soldiers. The battle lasted from July 1st until November 8th, and the allies succeeded in recapturing a total of 125 sq. miles of land. No important strategic objectives were captured. The British lost 400,000 troops, the French lost 200,000 and the Germans lost 400-500,000.


The Battle of the Somme which is also called the Somme Campaign was a major offensive campaign by the British and French against the German near the Somme River. The Allies had all agreed that there would be a combined offensive on the both the Eastern and Western Fronts. This was going to be the British and French contribution to that offensive. The German offensive at Verdun had forced the French to divert some of the troops that had been planned for the Somme's offensive to Verdun. The offensive began on July 1st. For the French it was one of the best days of the war. The French Sixth Army forced the German Second army from all their first positions. The German were forced to retreat. The British troops suffered divesting casualties 57,470 of which 19,240 were killed in that one day.

The first phase of the attacks continues until July 13th and was known as the Battle of Albert. The battle was the first time that the allies used tanks. The second part of the battle was Battle of Bazentin Ridge and it last from July 14- 17 and was an attempt to capture strategic ridges. The attack largely succeeded.

The second phase of the battles began on July 14th and lasted until mid September. The second phase was made up of a number of battles :Battle o Delville Rd, Battle of Pozieres, Battle of Guillemont and the Battle of Ginchy. The Allies won almost all of these battles but at a very heavy cost in most cases.

The third phase of the battle lasted from September to November 1916 and included the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, Battle of Morval, Battle of Thiepval Ridge,Battle of Transloy Ridges, Battle of Ancre Heights and the Battle of Ancre. The battle ended with the allies pushed the German back a total of 6 miles. The cost of the battle was horrendous for both sides. The British lost 419,654 men of which the 95,675 were killed. The French lost 204,253 of which 50,756 were killed and the German lost between 465,000 and 600,00 of which 164,555 were killed and another 38,000 became prisoners of war. A German officer wrote Somme: “The whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word”.