Battle of the Somme: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Battle of the Somme (World War 1).

  • The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest and most well-known battles of World War I. It lasted from 1st July to 18th November 1916 on the banks of the Somme River, in France.
  • It was also one of the bloodiest battles of the war, or of any war before or since. An estimated 1,000,000 men were killed or wounded, including about 485,000 British and French troops.
  • The intent of the British was to attack and take control of a 24 km stretch of the River Somme. Most historians today agree that the plan was not well thought out.
  • Before the battle started, the British fired over 1,700,000 shells at the German soldiers, although many did not explode, or missed the targets completely. The German soldiers also sheltered underground.

The Battle of the Somme

  • Almost 60,000 British soldiers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner on the first day of fighting. The Germans killed many officers, having been trained to recognize how they dressed.
  • Trench warfare was common during this time. The conditions in the trenches were cramped and uncomfortable and the drinking water was sometimes collected from holes made by enemy shells.
  • The Battle of the Somme saw several different weapons being used, including mines, poisonous gas and machine guns. Some larger machine guns needed 12 men to operate them.
  • Tanks were first used during the Battle of the Somme. The first tank, known as Little Willie, was not able to drive across the trenches and could only reach speeds of about 3 km per hour.
  • When the battle had ended in mid-November, the British and French soldiers had only advanced about 8km. The battle ended partly because heavy rains made fighting too difficult.
  • Today there are dozens of cemeteries and memorials in the area around the Somme, including a memorial to all the pipers who died. Farmers still dig up pieces of barbed wire, which they call the iron harvest.

29 Responses to Battle of the Somme: Facts and Information

  1. I know this is a longshot but does anybody have a link that will show me how grace was said before a meal during WW1? Spent ages looking for it and it appears the internet has something missing, or more likely I am not searching properly! Thanks in advance.

  2. Thank you so much. On this Memorial Day i love remembering all the people who have given so much in the view of freedom.

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