BATTLE OF THE SOMME
The Battle of the Somme was fought from July 1st, 1916 to November 18th, 1916 and is remembered as one of the bloodiest battles in human history. It was a devastating battle in World War I that took place along the River Somme in Northern France. It was fought between Allied Powers of France and Britain and the Central Power of Germany and was a major conflict on the Western Front. France and Britain both hoped that by starting the Battle of the Somme, they would relieve pressure on French defenders in Verdun during the Battle of Verdun where the French were struggling against the German assault on that region. The Allied strategy at the Battle of the Somme was to draw more German troops away from Verdun and into the Somme in hopes of causing Germany to struggle with managing both large battles at the same time.
The Battle of the Somme began on July 1st after an Allied artillery bombardment on the German front line trenches than lasted for more than a week. Then, on July 1st, British soldiers were ordered “over the top” and to advance on the German trenches. British soldiers were expecting to take the German trenches with ease, but were met with a strong German resistance of machine gun fire and a line of German soldiers. As such, the first day of fighting was brutal for the British and they suffered heavy losses – totaling nearly 60,000. The trench warfare continued for the next few weeks, until the British introduced a new weapon into World War I.
In September of 1916, the British introduced the first tanks ever into the battlefield of the Battle of the Somme. The first use of tanks in battle had mixed results. Many of them failed due to mechanical failure and were largely uncontrollable or became stuck in the thick mud of Northern France. However, they also provided a psychological advantage as the Germans were shocked to see these giant vehicles approaching them across “No Man’s Land”.
The Allied forces continued their difficult push forward in the Battle of the Somme but struggled to gain much ground. The battle finally came to an end on November 18th, 1916 when the change in weather and arrival of snow made fighting even more difficult.
In the end, the Battle of the Somme was one of the deadliest battles of World War I. The total casualty count number over 1 million, with the Allied forces having over 600,000 and the German forces having over 400,000. The battle is notable for being such a brutal and devastating battle and for being the first use of tanks in warfare.