Battle of the Somme (1916)
Overview
 
The Battle of the Somme , also known as the Somme Offensive, took place during the First World War between 1 July and 14 November 1916 in the Somme
Somme
Somme is a department of France, located in the north of the country and named after the Somme river. It is part of the Picardy region of France....

 department of France, on both banks of the river of the same name. The battle consisted of an offensive
Offensive (military)
An offensive is a military operation that seeks through aggressive projection of armed force to occupy territory, gain an objective or achieve some larger strategic, operational or tactical goal...

 by the British
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and French
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 armies against the German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

, which, since invading France in August 1914, had occupied large areas of that country. The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the First World War; by the time fighting had petered out in late autumn 1916 the forces involved had suffered more than 1 million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded.

The plan for the Somme offensive evolved out of Allied strategic discussions at Chantilly, Oise
Chantilly, Oise
Chantilly is a small city in northern France. It is designated municipally as a commune in the department of Oise.It is in the metropolitan area of Paris 38.4 km...

 in December 1915.
Encyclopedia
The Battle of the Somme , also known as the Somme Offensive, took place during the First World War between 1 July and 14 November 1916 in the Somme
Somme
Somme is a department of France, located in the north of the country and named after the Somme river. It is part of the Picardy region of France....

 department of France, on both banks of the river of the same name. The battle consisted of an offensive
Offensive (military)
An offensive is a military operation that seeks through aggressive projection of armed force to occupy territory, gain an objective or achieve some larger strategic, operational or tactical goal...

 by the British
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and French
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 armies against the German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

, which, since invading France in August 1914, had occupied large areas of that country. The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the First World War; by the time fighting had petered out in late autumn 1916 the forces involved had suffered more than 1 million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded.

The plan for the Somme offensive evolved out of Allied strategic discussions at Chantilly, Oise
Chantilly, Oise
Chantilly is a small city in northern France. It is designated municipally as a commune in the department of Oise.It is in the metropolitan area of Paris 38.4 km...

 in December 1915. Chaired by General Joseph Joffre
Joseph Joffre
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM was a French general during World War I. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.-Biography:Joffre was born in...

, the commander-in-chief of the French Army, Allied representatives agreed on a concerted offensive against the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 in 1916 by the French, British, Italian and Russian armies. The Somme offensive was to be the Anglo-French contribution to this general offensive, and was intended to create a rupture in the German line which could then be exploited
Breakthrough (military)
A breakthrough occurs when an offensive force has broken the enemy defensive line, and is rapidly exploiting the gap.Usually, large force is employed on a relatively small portion of the front to achieve this...

 with a decisive blow. With the German attack on Verdun
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France...

 on the River Meuse in February 1916, the Allies were forced to adapt their plans. The British Army took the lead on the Somme, though the French contribution remained significant.

The opening day of the battle
First day on the Somme
The first day on the Somme, 1 July 1916, was the opening day of the Battle of Albert, which was the first phase of the British and French offensive that became known as the Battle of the Somme...

 on 1 July 1916 saw the British Army suffer the worst one-day combat losses in its history, with nearly 60,000 casualties. Because of the composition of the British Army, at this point a volunteer force with many battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s comprising men from the same places, these losses had a profound social impact and have given the battle its legacy in Britain. The casualties also had a tremendous effect on the Dominion of Newfoundland
Dominion of Newfoundland
The Dominion of Newfoundland was a British Dominion from 1907 to 1949 . The Dominion of Newfoundland was situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast and comprised the island of Newfoundland and Labrador on the continental mainland...

, as a large number of the Newfoundland men that had volunteered to serve were lost that first day. The battle is also remembered for the first use of the tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

. The conduct of the battle has been a source of controversy: senior officers such as General Sir Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC, was a British senior officer during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to the end of the War...

, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force and Henry Rawlinson
Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson
General Henry Seymour Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson, GCB, GCSI, GCVO, KCMG , known as Sir Henry Rawlinson, Bt between 1895 and 1919, was a British First World War general most famous for his roles in the Battle of the Somme of 1916 and the Battle of Amiens in 1918.-Military career:Rawlinson was...

, the commander of Fourth Army, have been criticised for incurring very severe losses while failing to achieve their territorial objectives. Other historians have portrayed the Somme as a vital preliminary to the defeat of the German Army and one which taught the British Army valuable tactical and operational lessons.

At the end of the battle, British and French forces had penetrated a total of 6 miles (9.7 km) into German occupied territory. The British Army was three miles (5 km) from Bapaume
Bapaume
Bapaume is a commune and the seat of a canton in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:A farming and light industrial town located 10 miles south of Arras at the junction of the A1 autoroute and the N17 and N30 national roads its location is...

 and also did not capture Le Transloy
Le Transloy
Le Transloy is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Le Transloy is situated south of Arras, at the junction of the N17 and the D19 roads.-Population:-Places of interest:...

 or any other French town, failing to complete many objectives. The Germans were still occupying partially entrenched positions and were not as demoralised as the British High Command had anticipated.

State of the armies

The original British Expeditionary Force, six division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

s strong at the start of the war, had been wiped out by the battles of 1914 and 1915. The bulk of the army was now made up of volunteers of the Territorial Force
Territorial Force
The Territorial Force was the volunteer reserve component of the British Army from 1908 to 1920, when it became the Territorial Army.-Origins:...

 and Lord Kitchener's New Army
Kitchener's Army
The New Army, often referred to as Kitchener's Army or, disparagingly, Kitchener's Mob, was an all-volunteer army formed in the United Kingdom following the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War...

, which had begun forming in August 1914. The expansion demanded generals for the senior commands, so promotion came at a rapid pace and did not always reflect ability. Haig started the war as the commanding officer of British I Corps, then was promoted to command the British First Army
British First Army
The First Army was a field army of the British Army that existed during the First and Second World Wars. Despite being a British command, the First Army also included Indian and Portuguese forces during the First World War and American and French during the Second World War.-First World War:The...

 and then the BEF, an army group
Army group
An army group is a military organization consisting of several field armies, which is self-sufficient for indefinite periods. It is usually responsible for a particular geographic area...

 eventually comprising sixty divisions in five armies. This vast increase in numbers diluted troop quality and undermined the confidence inexperienced commanders had in their men; this was especially true of Rawlinson.

Allied war strategy before the Somme

The Allied war strategy for 1916 was largely formulated during a conference at Chantilly
Chantilly, Oise
Chantilly is a small city in northern France. It is designated municipally as a commune in the department of Oise.It is in the metropolitan area of Paris 38.4 km...

 between 6–8 December 1915. It was decided that for the next year, simultaneous offensives would be mounted by the Russians
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 in the east
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

, the Italians
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 (who had by now joined the Entente
Entente Cordiale
The Entente Cordiale was a series of agreements signed on 8 April 1904 between the United Kingdom and the French Republic. Beyond the immediate concerns of colonial expansion addressed by the agreement, the signing of the Entente Cordiale marked the end of almost a millennium of intermittent...

) in the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 and the Anglo-French on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

, thereby assailing the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 from all sides.

By 19 December 1915, General Sir Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC, was a British senior officer during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to the end of the War...

 had replaced General Sir John French
John French, 1st Earl of Ypres
Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, KP, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCMG, ADC, PC , known as The Viscount French between 1916 and 1922, was a British and Anglo-Irish officer...

 as Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Haig favoured a British offensive in Flanders— it was close to BEF supply routes via the Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 ports and had a strategic goal of driving the Germans from the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 coast of Belgium, from which their U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s were menacing Britain. Although there was no formal order of seniority, the British were still the "junior partner" on the Western Front and had to largely comply with French policy, even though Haig did not report to General Joseph Joffre
Joseph Joffre
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM was a French general during World War I. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.-Biography:Joffre was born in...

, the French Commander. In January 1916, Joffre had agreed to the BEF making their main effort in Flanders but after further discussions in February, the decision was reached to mount a combined offensive where the French and British armies were to launch their assault astride the Somme River in Picardy
Picardy
This article is about the historical French province. For other uses, see Picardy .Picardy is a historical province of France, in the north of France...

.

During February 1916, plans for the joint offensive on the Somme were still in the hands of the General Staff when the Germans began an offensive against the French at Verdun
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France...

. As the French committed themselves to defending Verdun, their capacity to carry out their role on the Somme was significantly reduced and the burden shifted to the British. France would end up contributing three corps to the opening of the attack (the XX, I Colonial and XXXV Corps of the 6th Army). As the Battle of Verdun dragged on, the aim of the Somme offensive changed from delivering a decisive blow against Germany, to relieving the pressure on the French army, the balance of forces changing to 13 French and 20 British divisions at the Somme.

Strategic differences of Haig and Rawlinson

A disagreement over tactics between Sir Douglas Haig and his senior local commander, General Sir Henry Rawlinson
Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson
General Henry Seymour Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson, GCB, GCSI, GCVO, KCMG , known as Sir Henry Rawlinson, Bt between 1895 and 1919, was a British First World War general most famous for his roles in the Battle of the Somme of 1916 and the Battle of Amiens in 1918.-Military career:Rawlinson was...

, General Officer Commanding the British Fourth Army
British Fourth Army
The Fourth Army was a field army that formed part of the British Expeditionary Force during the First World War. The Fourth Army was formed on 5 February 1916 under the command of General Sir Henry Rawlinson to carry out the main British contribution to the Battle of the Somme.-History:The Fourth...

 existed. Haig ordered that the objectives were "... relieving the pressure on the French at Verdun and inflicting loss on the enemy." ('G.H.Q. letter O.A.D. 12 to General Sir H. Rawlinson, 16th June 1916 Stating the Objectives') and that preparations should be made for an advance of 7 miles (11.3 km) to Bapaume
Bapaume
Bapaume is a commune and the seat of a canton in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:A farming and light industrial town located 10 miles south of Arras at the junction of the A1 autoroute and the N17 and N30 national roads its location is...

 should German resistance crumble, "If the first attack goes well every effort must be made to develop the success to the utmost by firstly opening a way for our cavalry and then as quickly as possible pushing the cavalry through to seize Bapaume...." (Note O.A.D. 17, Dated 21st June 1916) . He prepared to do this by first bombarding the enemy relentlessly for a week with a million shells. Following up this massive display of artillery would be twenty-two British and French divisions, passing through the barriers and occupying the trenches filled with stunned German soldiers so that his divisions could head off into the open. He wrote to the British General Staff that "the advance was to be pressed eastward far enough to enable our cavalry to push through into the open country beyond the enemy's prepared lines of defence."

Rawlinson anticipated an advance in the form of "bites" into the German defences. This "bite and hold" method was based upon his experience, as in the Second Battle of Ypres
Second Battle of Ypres
The Second Battle of Ypres was the first time Germany used poison gas on a large scale on the Western Front in the First World War and the first time a former colonial force pushed back a major European power on European soil, which occurred in the battle of St...

 where the Germans used 2000 yards (1,828.8 m) worth of solid defence in the face of fire to achieve success. He perceived this to be a sort of siege warfare that would be limited but positive as in action in Messines
Messines
Messines may refer to:* Mesen, a village in Belgium**Battle of Messines, World War I,* Messines, Quebec* HMCS Messines, one of twelve Battle class naval trawlers used by the Royal Canadian Navy* Messines, Queensland...

 in 1915. Rawlinson would soon compromise with Haig's plan, despite his views on the matter. He gradually changed his mind over the tactical approach offered by Haig and even went so far as to tell his men that "the infantry would only have to walk over to take possession."

German preparation on the eve of battle

The German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

, on the defence, held the high ground and were aware of the intended attack; they had been practically unmolested since October 1914, which had allowed the time needed to construct extensive trench lines and deep shellproof bunkers. British intelligence had underestimated the strength of the German defences. The trenches that they had built were thirty feet deep and in fact could and did hold up to any artillery barrage the British could muster. The wire that the Germans had constructed in front of their positions would require a lot more to break through and any shells that happened to strike the wire had merely tangled it more, making it even more dangerous. A report from a senior British officer in the field, General Aylmer Hunter-Weston
Aylmer Hunter-Weston
Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer Gould Hunter-Weston KCB DSO GStJ was a British Army general who served in World War I at Gallipoli and the Somme Offensive...

 of the VIII Corps, added to the myth that the wire could be cut by bombardment when he wrote that "the troops could walk in". However, this directly contradicted a junior officer that was serving under his command, who saw that the wire had not been removed effectively, that he "could see it standing strong and well." Any wire that would remain on the front line in an offensive would mean certain death for attacking infantry.

First day

Zero hour

Zero hour was officially set at 7:30 am for 1 July 1916. Ten minutes prior to zero hour, an officer detonated a 40000 pounds (18,143.7 kg) mine beneath Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt
Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt
Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt was a German front-line fortification west of the village of Beaumont Hamel on the Somme. It was the scene of a number of costly attacks by British infantry during the Battle of the Somme in 1916...

. Originally the mine was supposed to be set off at zero hour but as the VIII Corps commander, Lt-Gen Hunter-Weston (who had wanted to detonate four hours earlier, a proposal which was vetoed by the Inspector of Mines at BEF GHQ), remembered, both the 29th Division commander and the Brigade commander that were involved in the planning fought for ten minutes prior to zero hour. He said that they were concerned about large pieces harming the advancing British infantry. A Royal Engineer in the 252nd Tunnelling Company
Royal Engineer tunnelling companies
Royal Engineer tunnelling companies were specialist units of the Corps of Royal Engineers within the British Army, formed to dig attacking tunnels under enemy lines during the First World War....

 confirmed this, saying after the war that after he complained about the earlier time to the VIII Corps staff, they told him that the reason for the time was that they "feared the results of their men going across." Soon after, the remaining mines were set off, with the exception of one mine at Kasino Point
Kasino Point
Kasino Point was the name given to a German machine gun post on the Somme battlefield in 1916. The machine gun post was destroyed by an underground mine on the first day of the Somme offensive....

, which detonated at 7:27 a.m. When zero hour came, there was a brief and unsettling silence as artillery shifted their aim to a new line of targets and the time of the infantry to advance had come.

The offensive begins

The attack was made by thirteen British divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

- eleven from the Fourth Army
British Fourth Army
The Fourth Army was a field army that formed part of the British Expeditionary Force during the First World War. The Fourth Army was formed on 5 February 1916 under the command of General Sir Henry Rawlinson to carry out the main British contribution to the Battle of the Somme.-History:The Fourth...

 and two from the Third Army
British Third Army
-First World War :The Third Army was part of the British Army during World War I and was formed in France on 13 July 1915. The battles it took part in on the Western Front included:*Battle of the Somme*Battle of Cambrai*Second Battle of Arras...

) north of the Somme River and eleven divisions of the French Sixth Army just to the south of the river. They were opposed by the German Second Army of General Fritz von Below
Fritz von Below
Fritz Wilhelm Theodor Karl von Below was a Prussian general in the German Army during the First World War.-Biography:...

. The axis of the advance was centred on the Roman road
Roman road
The Roman roads were a vital part of the development of the Roman state, from about 500 BC through the expansion during the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. Roman roads enabled the Romans to move armies and trade goods and to communicate. The Roman road system spanned more than 400,000 km...

 that ran from Albert in the west to Bapaume
Bapaume
Bapaume is a commune and the seat of a canton in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:A farming and light industrial town located 10 miles south of Arras at the junction of the A1 autoroute and the N17 and N30 national roads its location is...

 12 miles (19.3 km) to the northeast.

Before the infantry moved, the artillery had been called into action. Barrages in the past had depended on surprise and poor German bunkers for success; however, these conditions did not exist in the area of the Somme. To add to the difficulties involved in penetrating the German defences, of 1,437 British guns, only 467 were heavies, and just 34 of those were of 9.2" (234 mm) or greater calibre. In the end, only 30 tons of explosive would fall per mile of British front. Of the 12,000 tons fired, two thirds of it was shrapnel and only 900 tons of it was capable of penetrating bunkers. To make matters worse, British gunners lacked the accuracy to bring fire in on close German trenches, keeping a safe separation of 300 yards (275 m), compared to the French gunners' 60 yards (55 m)—and British troops were often less than 300 yd (274.3 m) away, meaning German fortifications were untouched by the barrage. The infantry then crawled out into no man's land early so they could rush the front German trench as soon as the barrage
Barrage (artillery)
A barrage is a line or barrier of exploding artillery shells, created by the co-ordinated aiming of a large number of guns firing continuously. Its purpose is to deny or hamper enemy passage through the line of the barrage, to attack a linear position such as a line of trenches or to neutralize...

 lifted. Despite the heavy bombardment, many of the German defenders had survived, protected in deep dugouts and they were able to inflict a terrible toll on the infantry.

North of the Albert-Bapaume road, the advance was almost a complete failure. Communications were completely inadequate, as commanders were largely ignorant of the progress of the battle. A mistaken report by General Beauvoir De Lisle
Beauvoir De Lisle
General Sir Henry de Beauvoir De Lisle KCB KCMG DSO was a British Army General who served in World War I.-Military career:...

 of the 29th Division
British 29th Division
The British 29th Division, known as the Incomparable Division, was a First World War regular army infantry division formed in early 1915 by combining various units that had been acting as garrisons about the British Empire. Under the command of Major General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, the division...

 proved to be fatal. By misinterpreting a German flare as success by the 87th Brigade at Beaumont Hamel, it led to the reserves being ordered forward.
The eight hundred and one men from the 1st Newfoundland Regiment marched onto the battlefield from the reserves and only 68 made it out unharmed with over 500 of 801 dead. This one day of fighting had snuffed out a major portion of an entire generation of Newfoundlanders. British attacks astride the Albert-Bapaume road also failed, despite the explosion of two mines at La Boisselle. Here another tragic advance was made by the Tyneside Irish Brigade
Tyneside Irish Brigade
The Tyneside Irish Brigade was a British First World War infantry brigade of Kitchener's Army, raised in 1914. Officially numbered the 103rd Brigade, it contained four Pals battalions from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, largely made up of men of Irish extraction...

 of the 34th Division
British 34th Division
The British 34th Division was a New Army division formed in April 1915 as part of the K4 Army Group. The division landed in France on January 1916 and spent the duration of the First World War in action on the Western Front....

, which started nearly one mile from the German front line, in full view of German machine-guns. The Irish Brigade was wiped out before it reached the front trench line.

In the sector south of the Albert-Bapaume road, the British and French divisions found greater success. Here the German defences were relatively weak, and the French artillery, which was superior in numbers and experience to the British, was highly effective. From the town of Montauban
Montauban-de-Picardie
Montauban-de-Picardie is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:The commune is situated on the D64 road, some northeast of Amiens.-First World War:...

 to the Somme River, all the first-day objectives were reached. Though the French XX Corps was to only act in a supporting role in this sector, in the event they would help lead the way. South of the Somme, French forces fared very well, surpassing their objectives. The I Colonial Corps departed their trenches at 9:30 am as part of a feint meant to lure the Germans opposite into a false sense of security. The feint was successful as, like the French divisions to the north, they advanced 5 miles (8 km). They had stormed Fay, Dompierre and Becquincourt, extending the capture of German lines along a fourteen mile (21 km) front from Mametz to Fay. To the right of the Colonial Corps, the XXXV Corps also attacked at 9:30 am but, having only one division in the first line, had made less progress. The German trenches had been overwhelmed, and the enemy had been surprised by the attack. Over 3,000 German prisoners had been taken and the French had captured 80 German guns.

Overall, the first day on the Somme was a failure for the Allied forces. The British had suffered 19,240 dead, 35,493 wounded, 2,152 missing and 585 prisoners for a total loss of 57,470. This meant that in one day of fighting, 20% of the entire British fighting force had been killed, in addition to the complete loss of the Newfoundland Regiment as a fighting unit. Haig and Rawlinson did not know the enormity of the casualties and injuries from the battle and actually considered resuming the offensive as soon as possible. In fact, Haig, in his diary the next day, wrote that "...the total casualties are estimated at over 40,000 to date. This cannot be considered severe in view of the numbers engaged, and the length of front attacked."

Resumption of the attack: 2–13 July

German reaction by the General Staff to the first day's events was one of utter surprise; they did not expect such a large-scale attack by the British. General Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. He became a military writer after World War I.-Early life:...

, agitated by the additional losses in one sector of the Somme front, sacked the Chief of Staff of the Second Army and replaced him with then Colonel Fritz von Lossberg
Fritz von Lossberg
Friedrich Karl "Fritz" von Lossberg was a German colonel, and later general, of World War I. He was a strategic planner, especially of defence, who was Chief of Staff for the Second, Third and Fourth Armies. He was present at the battles of the Somme, Arras, and VerdunLossberg was born in Bad...

, his operations officer. He did not readily accept this promotion, as he vehemently disagreed with the conduct of the offensive at Verdun. He wanted it stopped, and Falkenhayn agreed to this condition. He ultimately took control of the Second Army, but Falkenhayn did not keep his promise, and attacks in the Verdun sector still went on. Von Lossberg contributed greatly to the German defence in his part of the front, scrapping the old ideas of front line defence with a new 'defence in depth
Defence in depth
Defence in depth is a military strategy; it seeks to delay rather than prevent the advance of an attacker, buying time and causing additional casualties by yielding space...

' idea. Lines of German defenders would be held in reserve, poised at the ready while the thin front line would ensure a much smaller amount of casualties.
Assessments by Haig and Rawlinson on 2 July were lacking in the failure to secure objectives during the first day of the offensive. Despite this, planning for their next move was conducted between Haig, Rawlinson, and Joffre. Haig felt that gains in the south should be exploited where the advance had made the most gains. Rawlinson wanted to stick to the original plan by pressing along the entire front. Joffre demanded that Haig aim to capture the heights of Thiepval Ridge, but Haig would not agree to this, and Joffre then referred him to General Foch
Ferdinand Foch
Ferdinand Foch , GCB, OM, DSO was a French soldier, war hero, military theorist, and writer credited with possessing "the most original and subtle mind in the French army" in the early 20th century. He served as general in the French army during World War I and was made Marshal of France in its...

 to settle the matter. Foch remembers that Haig was "upset with his losses... and that therefore he was not much inclined to attack again at Thiepval-Serre, but proposed to exploit the success farther south. This infuriated Joffre, who simply went for Haig, and was quite brutal."

On the morning of 3 July, the northern part of the front bisected by the Albert-Bapaume road had been a problem for the British, as only a part of La Boisselle had been taken. The road to Contalmaison beyond La Boisselle was important to the British because the town of Contalmaison enjoyed a high position where the Germans protected their artillery, a focal point in the center of the front line. The position south of the Albert-Bapaume road proved to be much more favourable to the advancing British, where they had achieved partial success. The line from Fricourt to Mametz Wood
Mametz wood
Mametz Wood was the objective of the 38th Division during the First Battle of the Somme. The attack occurred in a Northerly direction over a ridge, focussed on the German positions in the wood between 7 July and 12 July 1916. The attack of the 7 July failed to reach the wood before the men were...

 and on to Delville Wood
Delville Wood
The Battle of Delville Wood was one of the early engagements in the 1916 Battle of the Somme in the First World War. It took place between 14 July and 3 September, between the armies of the German Empire and allied British and South African forces...

 near Longueval
Longueval
Longueval is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Longueval is located 24 miles northwest of Amiens on the D919 road, at the junction with the D8....

 was overrun in due course, however the line beyond was more difficult to navigate because of dense forests.

As the British struggled to jump-start their offensive, the French continued their rapid advance south of the Somme. By 3 July, only three of the twelve original divisions of the British slated for attack had been active since the first day. Since a period of stagnation had set in on the British part of the front, a simmering hostility rose up among the rank and file of the French army. Officers in the Sixth Army even went so far as to call the offensive that had taken place so far "for amateurs by amateurs." Despite the negative feelings, the I Colonial Corps pressed on, and by the end of the day, Méréaucourt Wood, Herbécourt, Buscourt, Chapitre Wood, Flaucourt, and Asseviller were all in French hands. The first town to be captured, Frise, held a 77-gun battery that was found completely intact by French soldiers. In so doing, 8,000 Germans had been made prisoner, while the taking of the Flaucourt plateau would allow Foch to move heavy artillery up to support the XX Corps on the north bank.

The French continued their attack on 5 July as Hem was taken. On 8 July, Hardecourt-aux-Bois and Monacu Farm (a veritable fortress, surrounded by hidden machine-gun nests in the nearby marsh) both fell, followed by Biaches, Maisonnette, and Fortress Biaches on 9 July and 10 July.

Result of the battle

Thus, in ten days of fighting, on nearly a 12½ mile (20 km) front, the French 6th Army had progressed as far as six miles (10 km) at points. It had occupied the entire Flaucourt plateau (which constituted the principal defence of Péronne) while taking 12,000 prisoners, 85 cannon, 26 minenwerfer
Minenwerfer
Minenwerfer is the German name for a class of short range mortars used extensively during the First World War by the German Army...

s, 100 machine guns, and other assorted materials, all with relatively minimal losses.

For the British, the first two weeks of the battle had degenerated into a series of disjointed, small-scale actions, ostensibly in preparation for making a major push. From 3 to 13 July, Rawlinson's Fourth Army carried out 46 "actions" resulting in 25,000 casualties, but no significant advance. This demonstrated a difference in strategy between Haig and his French counterparts and was a source of friction. Haig's purpose was to maintain continual pressure on the enemy, while Joffre and Foch preferred to conserve their strength in preparation for a single, heavy blow.

Battle of Bazentin Ridge

On 14 July, the Fourth Army was finally ready to resume the offensive in the southern sector. The attack was aimed at capturing the German second defensive position which ran along the crest of the ridge from Pozières
Pozières
Pozières is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:The commune is situated on the D929 road, some northeast of Amiens between Albert and Bapaume, on the Pozières ridge.-Population:-History:...

, on the Albert–Bapaume road, south-east towards the villages of Guillemont
Guillemont
Guillemont is a commune roughly 8 miles east of Albert in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.It, like much of the surrounding area, is primarily an agricultural community, but is known for its large cemetery, which has become a tourist attraction...

 and Ginchy
Ginchy
Ginchy is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Ginchy is situated on the D20 road, some northeast of Amiens.-Population:-External links:*...

. The objectives were the villages of Bazentin le Petit, Bazentin le Grand and Longueval
Longueval
Longueval is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Longueval is located 24 miles northwest of Amiens on the D919 road, at the junction with the D8....

, which was adjacent to Delville Wood
Delville Wood
The Battle of Delville Wood was one of the early engagements in the 1916 Battle of the Somme in the First World War. It took place between 14 July and 3 September, between the armies of the German Empire and allied British and South African forces...

. Beyond this line, on the ridge, lay High Wood
High Wood
High Wood is a small forest near Bazentin le Petit in the Somme département of northern France which was the scene of intense fighting for two months from 14 July to 15 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.-Background:...

.

The preparation and execution of this attack contrasts sharply with that of 1 July. The attack on Bazentin Ridge was made by four divisions on a front of 6,000 yards (5.5 km) with the troops going over before dawn at 3:25 am after a surprise five-minute artillery bombardment. The artillery fired a creeping barrage and the attacking waves pushed up close behind it in no man's land, leaving them only a short distance to cross when the barrage lifted from the German front trench.

By mid-morning the first phase of the attack was a success with nearly all objectives taken, a gap also being made in the German defences. However, the British were unable to exploit it. Their attempt to do so created the most famous cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 action of the Battle of the Somme, when the 7th Dragoon Guards
7th Dragoon Guards
The 7th Dragoon Guards was a cavalry regiment in the British Army, first raised in 1688. It saw service for three centuries, before being amalgamated into the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in 1922....

 and the 2nd Deccan Horse attempted to capture High Wood. It is likely the infantry could have captured the wood in the morning but by the time the cavalry were in position to attack, the Germans had begun to recover. Though the cavalry held on in the wood through the night of 14 July, they had to withdraw the following day.

The British had a foothold in High Wood and would continue to fight over it as well as Delville Wood, neighbouring Longueval for many days. Unfortunately for them, the successful opening attack of 14 July did not mean they had learnt how to conduct trench battles. On the night of 22 July, Rawlinson launched an attack using six divisions along the length of the Fourth Army front that failed completely. The Germans were learning; they had begun to move away from trench-based defences and towards a flexible defence in depth
Defence in depth
Defence in depth is a military strategy; it seeks to delay rather than prevent the advance of an attacker, buying time and causing additional casualties by yielding space...

 system of strongpoints that was difficult for the supporting artillery to suppress.

Pozières and Mouquet Farm

23 July – 8 August 1916

No significant progress was made in the northern sector in the first few weeks of July. Ovillers, just north of the Albert-Bapaume road, was not captured until 16 July; its capture and the foothold the British had obtained in the German second position on 14 July, meant that the chance existed for the German northern defences to be taken in the flank. The key to this was Pozières
Pozières
Pozières is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:The commune is situated on the D929 road, some northeast of Amiens between Albert and Bapaume, on the Pozières ridge.-Population:-History:...

. The village of Pozières lay on the Albert-Bapaume road at the crest of the ridge. Just behind (east) the village ran the trenches of the German second position. The Fourth Army made three attempts to seize the village between 14 and 17 July before Haig relieved Rawlinson's army of responsibility for its northern flank. The capture of Pozières became a task for Gough's Reserve Army
British Reserve Army
The Reserve Army was a field army of the British Army during World War I and part of the British Expeditionary Force during the First World War...

. He used the two Australian and one New Zealand divisions of I Anzac Corps
I Anzac Corps
The I ANZAC Corps was a combined Australian and New Zealand army corps that served during World War I.It was formed in Egypt in February 1916 as part of the reorganisation and expansion of the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force following the evacuation of Gallipoli...

.

Gough wanted the Australian 1st Division to attack immediately but the division's British commander, Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Harold Walker
Harold Bridgwood Walker
Lieutenant General Sir Harold Bridgwood Walker KCB, KCMG, DSO was an English general who led Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War...

, refused to send his men in without adequate preparation. The attack was scheduled for the night of 23 July to coincide with the Fourth Army attack of 22–23 July.

Going in shortly after midnight, the attack on Pozières was a success, largely thanks to Walker's insistence on careful preparation and an overwhelming supporting bombardment. An attempt to capture the neighbouring German second position failed, though two Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 in the attempt. The Germans, recognising the critical importance of the village to their defensive network, made three unsuccessful counter-attacks before beginning a prolonged and methodical bombardment of the village. The final German effort to reclaim Pozières came before dawn on 7 August following a particularly heavy bombardment. The Germans overran the forward Anzac defences and a mêlée developed from which the Anzacs emerged victorious.

Gough planned to drive north along the ridge towards Mouquet Farm, allowing him to threaten the German bastion of Thiepval
Thiepval
The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a major war memorial to 72,191 missing British and South African men who died in the Battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918 who have no known grave...

 from the rear. However, the further the Australians and New Zealanders advanced, the deeper was the salient they created such that the German artillery could concentrate on them from three directions.
On 8 August the Anzacs began pushing north along the ridge with the British II Corps advancing from Ovillers on their left. By 10 August a line had been established just south of the farm, which the Germans had turned into a fortress with deep dugouts and tunnels connecting to distant redoubts. The Anzacs made numerous attempts to capture the farm between 12 August and 3 September, inching closer with each attempt. The Anzacs were relieved by the Canadian Corps
Canadian Corps
The Canadian Corps was a World War I corps formed from the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September 1915 after the arrival of the 2nd Canadian Division in France. The corps was expanded by the addition of the 3rd Canadian Division in December 1915 and the 4th Canadian Division in August 1916...

, who would briefly capture Mouquet Farm on 16 September, the day after the next major British offensive. The farm was finally overrun on 26 September and the garrison surrendered the following day.

By the time New Zealand's artillery was withdrawn from the line in October 1916, they had fired more than 500,000 shells at the Germans.

In the fighting at Pozières and Mouquet Farm, the Australian divisions suffered over 23,000 casualties, of which 6,741 were killed. If the losses from Fromelles
Battle of Fromelles
The Battle of Fromelles, sometimes known as the Action at Fromelles or the Battle of Fleurbaix , occurred in France between 19 July and 20 July 1916, during World War I...

 on 19 July are included, Australia had sustained more casualties in six weeks in France than they had in the eight months of the Battle of Gallipoli
Battle of Gallipoli
The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign or the Battle of Gallipoli, took place at the peninsula of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during the First World War...

. The New Zealanders suffered 8,000 casualties in six weeks – nearly one per cent of their nation's population. These losses were about the same as New Zealand suffered in eight months at Gallipoli.

Attrition: August and September

By the start of August, Haig had accepted that the prospect of achieving a breakthrough was now unlikely; the Germans had "recovered to a great extent from the disorganisation" of July. For the next six weeks, the British would engage in a series of small-scale actions in preparation for the next major push. On 29 August the German Chief of the General Staff, Erich Falkenhayn, was replaced by General Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

, with General Erich Ludendorff
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

 as his deputy, but in effect the operational commander. The immediate effect of this change was the introduction of a new defensive doctrine. On 23 September the Germans began constructing the Siegfried Stellung, called the Hindenburg Line
Hindenburg Line
The Hindenburg Line was a vast system of defences in northeastern France during World War I. It was constructed by the Germans during the winter of 1916–17. The line stretched from Lens to beyond Verdun...

 by the British.

On the Fourth Army's front, the struggle for High Wood
High Wood
High Wood is a small forest near Bazentin le Petit in the Somme département of northern France which was the scene of intense fighting for two months from 14 July to 15 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.-Background:...

, Delville Wood
Delville Wood
The Battle of Delville Wood was one of the early engagements in the 1916 Battle of the Somme in the First World War. It took place between 14 July and 3 September, between the armies of the German Empire and allied British and South African forces...

 and the Switch Line dragged on. The boundary between the British and French armies lay south-east of Delville Wood, beyond the villages of Guillemont
Battle of Guillemont
The Battle of Guillemont was a British assault on the German-held village of Guillemont during the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Guillemont lay on the right flank of the British sector where it linked with French forces and by holding it, the Germans prevented the Allied armies from operating in...

 and Ginchy
Battle of Ginchy
The Battle of Ginchy took place on 9 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme when the United Kingdom 16th Division captured the German-held village of Ginchy. However the Irish Royal Munster Fusiliers suffered heavy casualties in the process...

. Here the British line had not progressed significantly since the first day of the battle, and the two armies were in echelon
Echelon formation
An echelon formation is a military formation in which members are arranged diagonally. Each member is stationed behind and to the right , or behind and to the left , of the member ahead...

, making progress impossible until the villages were captured. The first British effort to seize Guillemont on 8 August was a debacle. On 18 August a larger effort began, involving three British corps as well as the French, but it took until 3 September before Guillemont was in British hands. Attention now turned to Ginchy, which was captured by the British 16th (Irish) Division
British 16th (Irish) Division
The 16th Division was a voluntary 'Service' division of Kitchener's New Army raised in Ireland from the 'National Volunteers', initially in September 1914, after the outbreak of the Great War...

 on 9 September. The French had also made progress, and once Ginchy fell, the two armies were linked near Combles
Combles
Combles is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Combles is situated on the D20 road, some northeast of Amiens.-History:...

.
The British now had an almost straight front line from near Mouquet Farm in the north-west to Combles in the south-east, providing a suitable jumping-off position for another large-scale attack. In 1916 a straight front was considered necessary to enable the supporting artillery to lay down an effective creeping barrage behind which the infantry could advance.

This intermediate phase of the Battle of the Somme had been costly for the Fourth Army, despite there being no major offensive. Between 15 July and 14 September (the eve of the next battle), the Fourth Army made around 90 attacks of battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 strength or more with only four being general attacks across the length of the army's five miles (8 km) of front. The result was 82,000 casualties and an advance of approximately 1,000 yards (915 m)—a performance even worse than on 1 July.

Debut of the tank

The last great Allied effort to achieve a breakthrough came on 15 September in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette
Battle of Flers-Courcelette
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, was a battle within the Franco-British Somme Offensive which took place in the summer and autumn of 1916. Launched on the 15th of September 1916 the battle went on for one week. Flers-Courcelette began with the overall objective of cutting a hole in the German...

 with the initial advance made by 11 British divisions (nine from Fourth Army, two Canadian
Military History of Canada during WWI
When World War I broke out in 1914, the Dominions of the British Empire, including Canada immediately and without hesitation supported the United Kingdom's declaration of war against Germany and its allies...

 divisions on the Reserve Army sector) and a later attack by four French corps.

The battle is significantly remembered today as the debut of the tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

. The British had high hopes that this secret weapon would break the deadlock of the trenches. Early tanks were not weapons of mobile warfare—with a top speed of 3 mph (4.8 km/h), they were easily outpaced by the infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

—but were designed for trench warfare
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

. They were untroubled by barbed wire
Barbed wire
Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

 obstacles and impervious to rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

 and machine-gun fire, though highly vulnerable to artillery. Additionally, the tanks were notoriously unreliable; of the 49 tanks available on 15 September, only 32 made it to the start line, and of these, only 21 made it into action. Mechanical breakdowns were common, and many others became bogged or ditched in the shell holes and trenches of the churned battlefield.
The British made gains across the length of their front, the greatest being in the centre at Flers
Flers
Flers is the name or part of the name of several communes in France:* Flers, Orne, in the Orne département* Flers, Nord, a former commune of the Nord département, now part of Villeneuve d'Ascq...

 with an advance of 3,500 yards (3.2 km), a feat achieved by the newest British division in France, the 41st Division
British 41st Division
The British 41st Division is a New Army division formed in September 1915 as part of the K5 Army. The division landed in France in May 1916 and spent the duration of the First World War in action on the Western Front.- Formation :122nd Brigade :...

, in their first action. They were supported by several tanks, including D-17 (known as Dinnaken) which smashed through the barbed wire protecting the village, crossed the main defensive trench and then drove up the main street, using its guns to destroy defenders in the houses. This gave rise to the optimistic press report: "A tank is walking up the High Street of Flers with the British Army cheering behind."

It was also the first major Western Front battle for the New Zealand Division
New Zealand Division
The New Zealand Division was a World War I infantry division formed in Egypt in January 1916 following the evacuation of Gallipoli. At the outbreak of war the New Zealand Expeditionary Force contained a single infantry brigade which was combined with the unattached Australian 4th Infantry Brigade...

, at the time part of the British XV Corps, which captured part of the Switch Line west of Flers. On the left flank, the Canadian 2nd Division particularly with the efforts of the French Canadian
French Canadian
French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 22nd Battalion
Royal 22e Régiment
The Royal 22nd Regiment is an infantry regiment and the most famous francophone organization of the Canadian Forces. The regiment comprises three Regular Force battalions, two Primary Reserve battalions, and a band, making it the largest regiment in the Canadian Army...

 (the 'Van Doos') and the 25th Battalion (the Nova Scotia Rifles) captured the village of Courcelette
Courcelette
Courcelette is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Courcelette is situated on the D929 and D107 crossroads, some northeast of Amiens.-History:...

 after heavy fighting, with some assistance from two tanks. And finally after two months of fighting, the British captured all of High Wood
High Wood
High Wood is a small forest near Bazentin le Petit in the Somme département of northern France which was the scene of intense fighting for two months from 14 July to 15 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.-Background:...

, though not without another costly struggle. The plan was to use tanks in support of infantry from the 47th (1/2nd London) Division
British 47th (1/2nd London) Division
The British 47th Division was a first-line Territorial Force division. Originally called the "2nd London Division" it was designated the 47th Division in 1915 and referred to as the "1/2nd London Division" after the raising of the second-line 60th Division...

, but the wood was an impassable landscape of shattered stumps and shell holes, and only one tank managed to penetrate any distance. The German defenders were forced to abandon High Wood once British progress on the flanks threatened to encircle them.
The British had managed to advance during Flers-Courcelette, capturing 4,500 yards (4.1 km) of the German third position, but fell short of all their objectives, and once again the breakthrough eluded them. The tank had shown promise, but its lack of reliability limited its impact, and the military tactics of tank warfare were obviously in their infancy.

The least successful sector on 15 September had been east of Ginchy, where the Quadrilateral
Quadrilateral
In Euclidean plane geometry, a quadrilateral is a polygon with four sides and four vertices or corners. Sometimes, the term quadrangle is used, by analogy with triangle, and sometimes tetragon for consistency with pentagon , hexagon and so on...

 redoubt had held up the advance towards Morval
Morval
Morval is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Morval is situated south of Arras, on the D11 road, completely surrounded by the department of the Somme...

—the Quadrilateral was not captured until 18 September. Another attack was planned for 25 September with the objectives of the villages of Thiepval; Gueudecourt
Gueudecourt
Gueudecourt is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-History:During the Battle of the Somme, the town of Gueudecourt had comprised one of the most distant objectives for the British drive that opened on 15 September 1916, a drive that has come to be known as the Battle...

, Lesbœufs
Lesbœufs
Lesbœufs is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Lesbœufs is situated on the D74 road, about half a mile from the A1 autoroute, some northeast of Amiens.-History:...

 and Morval. Like the Battle of Bazentin Ridge
Battle of Bazentin Ridge
The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, launched by the British Fourth Army at dawn on 14 July 1916, marked the start of the second phase of the Battle of the Somme. Dismissed beforehand by one French commander as "an attack organized for amateurs by amateurs", it turned out to be "hugely successful" for...

 on 14 July, the limited objectives, concentrated artillery and weak German defences resulted in a successful attack and, although the number of tanks deployed was small, the tanks provided useful assistance in the destruction of machine-gun positions.

Final phase

On 26 September Gough's Reserve Army launched its first major offensive since the opening day of the battle in an attempt to capture the German fortress of Thiepval
Thiepval
The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a major war memorial to 72,191 missing British and South African men who died in the Battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918 who have no known grave...

. The 18th (Eastern) Division
British 18th (Eastern) Division
The British 18th Division was a New Army division formed in September 1914 as part of the K2 Army Group. The division landed in France on 25 May 1915 and spent the duration of the First World War in action on the Western Front, becoming one of the elite divisions of the British Army...

, which had excelled on 1 July, once more demonstrated by capturing most of Thiepval on the first day that careful training, preparation and leadership could overcome the obstacles of trench warfare. Mouquet Farm finally fell to the 11th (Northern) Division
British 11th (Northern) Division
The British 11th Division, was one of the Kitchener's Army divisions raised from volunteers by Lord Kitchener, it fought at Gallipoli and the Western Front during the First World War...

, and the Canadians advanced 1,000 yards (915 m) from Courcelette.

There followed a period from 1 October to 11 November, known as the Battle of the Ancre Heights, of grinding attritional fighting for little gain. At the end of October, Gough's army was renamed the British Fifth Army
British Fifth Army
The Fifth Army was a field army of the British Army during World War I and part of the British Expeditionary Force during the First World War.-History:...

.

Meanwhile on the Fourth Army's front, Haig was still under the illusion that a breakthrough was imminent. On 29 September he had outlined plans for Allenby's
Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby
Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby GCB, GCMG, GCVO was a British soldier and administrator most famous for his role during the First World War, in which he led the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in the conquest of Palestine and Syria in 1917 and 1918.Allenby, nicknamed...

 Third Army
British Third Army
-First World War :The Third Army was part of the British Army during World War I and was formed in France on 13 July 1915. The battles it took part in on the Western Front included:*Battle of the Somme*Battle of Cambrai*Second Battle of Arras...

 to rejoin the battle in the north around Gommecourt and for the Fourth Army to attack towards Cambrai
Cambrai
Cambrai is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Cambrai is the seat of an archdiocese whose jurisdiction was immense during the Middle Ages. The territory of the Bishopric of Cambrai, roughly coinciding with the shire of Brabant, included...

. The first step required the capture of the German Transloy Line, effectively the German fourth defensive position that ran from the village of Le Transloy
Le Transloy
Le Transloy is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Le Transloy is situated south of Arras, at the junction of the N17 and the D19 roads.-Population:-Places of interest:...

 in the east to Le Sars
Le Sars
Le Sars is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Le Sars is situated south of Arras, at the junction of the D11 and the D929 roads.-Population:-Places of interest:...

 on the Albert-Bapaume road.

Opening on 1 October, the Battle of Le Transloy
Battle of Le Transloy
The Battle of Le Transloy was the final offensive mounted by the British Fourth Army during the 1916 Battle of the Somme.-Prelude:With the successful conclusion of the preceding Battle of Morval at the end of September, the Fourth Army of Lieutenant General Henry Rawlinson had finally captured the...

 became bogged down as the weather broke, and heavy rain turned the churned battlefield into a quagmire. Le Sars was captured on 7 October, but elsewhere there was little progress and a continual flow of casualties. The final throe came on 5 November with a failed attack on the Butte de Warlencourt
Butte de Warlencourt
The Butte de Warlencourt is an ancient burial mound alongside the Albert-Bapaume road, north-east of the village of Le Sars in the Somme département of northern France...

. On the Fourth Army's front, major operations in the Battle of the Somme had now ceased.
The final act of the Battle of the Somme was played out between 13 and 18 November along the Ancre River, north of Thiepval. Haig's purpose for the attack was more political than military—with winter setting in, there was no longer any prospect of a breakthrough. Instead, with another conference at Chantilly starting on 15 November, he hoped to be able to report a success to his French counterparts.

The opening moves were almost a replay of 1 July, even down to another mine being detonated beneath Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt
Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt
Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt was a German front-line fortification west of the village of Beaumont Hamel on the Somme. It was the scene of a number of costly attacks by British infantry during the Battle of the Somme in 1916...

 west of Beaumont Hamel. The 31st Division
British 31st Division
The British 31st Division was a New Army division formed in April 1915 as part of the K4 Army Group and taken over by the War Office on 10 August 1915. Comprising mainly battalions from Yorkshire and Lancashire, the division was sent to Egypt in December 1915 before moving to France in March 1916...

 had attacked Serre on 1 July and four and a half months later, was called on to do it again; the results were similar. South of Serre, the British, with the benefit of their hard-earned experience, succeeded in capturing most of their objectives. The 51st (Highland) Division
British 51st (Highland) Division (World War I)
The 51st Division was a British Territorial Force division that fought on the Western Front in France during the First World War. The division's insignia was a stylised 'HD' inside a red circle. Early doubts about the division's performance earned it the nickname of "Harper's Duds" after the...

 took Beaumont Hamel, while on their right the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division
British 63rd (Royal Naval) Division
The British 63rd Division was a First World War division of the New Army. The division had been formed at the outbreak of war as the Royal Naval Division...

 captured Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre
Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre
Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:The commune is situated south of Arras on the D50 and D163 junction. The Ancre river is little more than a trickle through marshy ground at this point....

, Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 Bernard Freyberg winning the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 in the process. South of the Ancre, II Corps had also made progress. After five weeks of attacking, the Canadian 4th Division finally took the formidable Regina Trench
Regina Trench
The Regina Trench was a German trench dug into the top of the slope of a valley running from northwest of the village of Le Sars in a southwest direction almost to the German fortifications at Thiepval on the Somme Battlefield...

 north of Courcelette on 11 November, and Desire Trench 400 yards beyond a week later.

Haig was satisfied with the result, but Gough argued for a final effort, which was made on 18 November with an attack on the Munich and Frankfurt Trenches and a push towards Grandcourt
Grandcourt
Grandcourt is the name of the following communes in France:* Grandcourt, Seine-Maritime, in the Seine-Maritime department* Grandcourt, Somme, in the Somme department...

. Ninety men of the 16th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
Highland Light Infantry
The Highland Light Infantry was a regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1959. In 1923 the regimental title was expanded to the Highland Light Infantry ...

 (the "Glasgow Boys Brigade" Pals battalion
Pals battalion
The Pals battalions of World War I were specially constituted units of the British Army comprising men who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives, with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbours and work colleagues , rather than being arbitrarily...

) were cut off in Frankfurt Trench, where they held out until 21 November when the 45 survivors— thirty of them wounded—surrendered. So ended the Battle of the Ancre
Battle of the Ancre
The Battle of the Ancre was the final act of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Launched on 13 November 1916 by the British Fifth Army of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, the objective of the battle was as much political as military.-Prelude:The Allied commanders were due to meet at Chantilly on 15...

, and with it the Battle of the Somme.

Conclusion

It is difficult to declare the Battle of the Somme a victory for either side. The British and French captured little more than 7 miles (11.3 km) at the deepest point of penetration—well short of their original objectives. The British themselves had gained approximately only two miles and lost about 420,000 soldiers in the process, meaning that a centimetre cost about two men. A group of British and Commonwealth historians have since the 1960s argued against the widely-held view that the battle was a disaster; arguing that the Battle of the Somme delivered more benefits for the British than it did for the Germans. As British historian Gary Sheffield
Gary Sheffield (historian)
Professor Gary Sheffield is an English academic at the University of Birmingham and a military historian. He has published widely, especially on the First World War, and contributes to many newspapers, journals and magazines. He frequently broadcasts on television and radio.Sheffield studied...

 said, "The battle of the Somme was not a victory in itself, but without it the Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

 would not have emerged victorious in 1918".

Strategic effects

Prior to the battle, Germany had regarded Britain as a naval
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 power and discounted her as a military force to be reckoned with, believing Germany's major enemies were France and Russia. According to some historians, starting with the Somme, Britain began to gain influence in the coalition
Coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

. In recognition of the growing threat she posed, on 31 January 1917, Germany adopted the policy of unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare is a type of naval warfare in which submarines sink merchantmen without warning, as opposed to attacks per prize rules...

 in an attempt to starve the island nation of supplies. Other historians would argue Britain's growing influence in the war had nothing to do with the battle and everything to do with her great financial and industrial strength, which inevitably increased in importance in a stalemate war.

At the start of 1916, the British Army had been a largely inexperienced, but well trained mass of volunteers. The Somme was the first real test of this newly raised "citizen army" created following Lord Kitchener's call for recruits
Recruitment to the British Army during World War I
At the start of 1914 the British Army had a reported strength of 710,000 men including reserves, of which around 80,000 were regular troops ready for war. By the end of World War I almost 1 in 4 of the total male population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland had joined, over five...

 at the start of the war. It is accurate to observe that many British soldiers who were killed on the Somme lacked experience, but unwise to conclude, as some historians may have done, that their loss was of little military significance. These soldiers had been the first to volunteer and so were often the fittest, most enthusiastic and best educated citizen soldiers. For Germany, which had entered the war with a trained force of regulars and reservists, each casualty was sapping the experience and effectiveness of the German army. The German Army Group Commander Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria
Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria
Rupprecht or Rupert, Crown Prince of Bavaria was the last Bavarian Crown Prince.His full title was His Royal Highness Rupprecht Maria Luitpold Ferdinand, Crown Prince of Bavaria, Duke of Bavaria, of Franconia and in Swabia, Count Palatine of the Rhine...

 stated: "What remained of the old first-class peace-trained German infantry had been expended on the battlefield". Despite being promoted to Field-Marshal, Rupprecht infuriated the new German High Command (Hindenburg and Ludendorff) by advising them to make peace. A war of attrition was better for Britain with her population of some fifty million than Germany whose population of some seventy million also had to sustain operations against the French and Russians.

One line of historical thought, held by William Philpott for example, holds that the Battle of the Somme placed unprecedented stresses on the German Army's manpower reserves, so much so that after battle it was unable to adequately replace casualties with the same calibre of soldier. This had the strategic implication that, by the end of the battle, the Allied and German armies were more evenly matched. However, whatever the strategic difficulties the German Army now found itself in, it had managed to prevent a complete rupture of its defences and had survived the battle as an effective fighting force. Moreover, it had done so despite facing significant strategic pressure from Russia
Brusilov Offensive
The Brusilov Offensive , also known as the June Advance, was the Russian Empire's greatest feat of arms during World War I, and among the most lethal battles in world history. Prof. Graydon A. Tunstall of the University of South Florida called the Brusilov Offensive of 1916 the worst crisis of...

 and whilst conducting a concurrent invasion of Romania. In 1917 the Germans were still able to defend effectively against British and French attacks at Arras, Champagne (the Nivelle Offensive), and Passchendaele.

Falkenhayn was sacked and replaced by Hindenburg and Ludendorff in September 1916. At a conference at Cambrai on 5 September one decision was to build a new defensive line well behind the front line. The 'Siegfriedstellung' was to be built between Arras—St Quentin—La Fere—Conde with another new line between Verdun and Pont a Mousson. These lines were intended to limit any Allied breakthrough and to allow the German army to withdraw if attacked. Work began on the Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line) at the end of September. Withdrawing to the new line was not an easy decision and the German high command prevaricated over it during the winter of 1916-1917. Some members wanted to take a shorter step back to a line between Arras and Sailly while the First and Second army commanders wanted to stay on the Somme. Generalleutnant von Fuchs in a meeting with General von Kuhl on 20 January 1917 said,
Enemy superiority is so great that we are not in a position either to fix their forces in position or to prevent them from launching an offensive elsewhere. We just do not have the troops.... We cannot prevail in a second battle of the Somme with our men; they cannot achieve that any more. (Von Kuhl, Diary 20 January 1917)


half measures would be futile and a retreat to the Siegfriedstellung was unavoidable. The German army was given the order to begin the withdrawal from the Somme front Operation Alberich on 16 March 1917, despite the new line being unfinished and poorly sited in some places.

On 24 February 1917, the German army made the strategic scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 withdrawal (Operation Alberich) from the Somme battlefield to the Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line
Hindenburg Line
The Hindenburg Line was a vast system of defences in northeastern France during World War I. It was constructed by the Germans during the winter of 1916–17. The line stretched from Lens to beyond Verdun...

), thereby shortening the front line they had to occupy. The purpose of military commanders is not to test their army to destruction, and it has been suggested German commanders did not believe the army could endure continual battles of attrition like the Somme. German losses and the manpower crisis they caused, meant that 154 divisions were facing 190 Allied divisions, many being somewhat larger than the German ones. The Alberich Bewegung ('movement') shortened the Western Front and saved the German army the manpower of 13 divisions. Loss of German territory was repaid many times over in the strengthening of defensive lines, an option which was not open to the Allies because of the political impossibility of surrendering French or Belgian territory.

The strategic effects of the Battle of the Somme cannot obscure the fact it was one of the costliest battles of the First World War. A German officer, Friedrich Steinbrecher, wrote:
Another, Captain von Hentig, described the Battle of the Somme as "the muddy grave of the German Field Army".

Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme

For their efforts on the first day of the battle, The 1st Newfoundland Regiment was given the name "The Royal Newfoundland Regiment" by George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 on 28 November 1917. Because of the slaughter, the first day of the Battle of the Somme is still commemorated in Newfoundland, remembering the "Best of the Best" at 11 am on the Sunday nearest to 1 July.

The Somme has iconic status in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 due to the participation of the 36th (Ulster) Division. Since 1916 the first of July has been marked in commemoration by veterans' groups and also by unionist/Protestant groups such as the Orange Order. Since the start of the Northern Irish Troubles the date has become associated primarily with the Orange Order and is regarded by some as simply a part of the 'marching season', with no particular connection to the Somme. However the British Legion and others still commemorate the battle on July first.

Casualties

Nationality Total
casualties
Killed &
missing
Prisoners
United Kingdom 350,000+
Canada 24,029
Australia 23,000   < 200
New Zealand 7,408 
South Africa 3,000+
Newfoundland 2,000+
Total British Empire 419,654 95,675 -
French 204,253 50,756
Total Allied 623,907 146,431 -
Germany 465,000 164,055 31,000

The original Allied estimate of casualties on the Somme, made at the Chantilly conference on 15 November, was 485,000 British and French casualties versus 630,000 German. These figures were used to support the argument that the Somme was a successful battle of attrition for the Allies. However, there was considerable scepticism at the time of the accuracy of the counts. After the war a final tally showed that 419,654 British and 204,253 French were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner; of the 623,907 total casualties, 146,431 were either killed or missing.
According to newer sources (and to Winston Churchill) German losses in the categories dead, missed, wounded were astoundingly low (237,009). The Somme meant attrition on the Allied side. (The Somme, Prior and Wilson, Yale University Press 2005)

The British official historian Sir James Edmonds
James Edmonds
James Edmonds may refer to:* James Barker Edmonds , American lawyer and politician* James Edward Edmonds , British Army officer and military historian* James Edmonds , British cricketer-See also:...

 maintained that German losses were 680,000, but this figure has been discredited. A separate statistical report by the British War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

 concluded that German casualties on the British sector could be as low as 180,000 during the battle. In compiling his biography of General Rawlinson, Major-General Sir Frederick Maurice
Frederick Maurice
John Frederick Denison Maurice, often known as F. D. Maurice , was an English theologian and Christian Socialist.-Biography:...

 was supplied by the Reichsarchiv with a figure of 164,055 for the German killed or missing.

The average casualties per division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 (consisting of circa 10,000 soldiers) on the British sector up until 19 November was 8,026—6,329 for the four Canadian divisions, 7,408 for the New Zealand Division
New Zealand Division
The New Zealand Division was a World War I infantry division formed in Egypt in January 1916 following the evacuation of Gallipoli. At the outbreak of war the New Zealand Expeditionary Force contained a single infantry brigade which was combined with the unattached Australian 4th Infantry Brigade...

, 8,133 for the 43 British divisions and 8,960 for the three Australian divisions. The British daily loss rate during the Battle of the Somme was 2,943 men, which exceeded the loss rate during the Third Battle of Ypres but was not as severe as the two months of the Battle of Arras (1917)
Battle of Arras (1917)
The Battle of Arras was a British offensive during the First World War. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British, Canadian, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and Australian troops attacked German trenches near the French city of Arras on the Western Front....

 (4,076 per day) or the final Hundred Days offensive in 1918 (3,685 per day).

The Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
The Royal Flying Corps was the over-land air arm of the British military during most of the First World War. During the early part of the war, the RFC's responsibilities were centred on support of the British Army, via artillery co-operation and photographic reconnaissance...

 lost 782 aircraft and 576 pilots during the battle.

Also killed was an American-born soldier, Harry Butters, serving in the British Royal Artillery – the first American casualty in the First World War.

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, then a Unteroffizier
Unteroffizier
Unteroffizier is both a specific military rank as well as a collective term for non-commissioned officers of the German military that has existed since the 19th century. The rank existed as a title as early as the 17th century with the first widespread usage occurring in the Bavarian Army of the...

 of the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division
6th Bavarian Reserve Division (German Empire)
The 6th Bavarian Reserve Division was a unit of the Royal Bavarian Army, part of the German Army, in World War I. The division was formed on 10 September 1914 and organized over the next month...

, fought in the Battle of the Somme and was wounded, taking a bullet to the leg on 7 October 1916.

Notable deaths

  • Augustin Cochin
    Augustin Cochin (historian)
    Augustin Cochin was a French historian of the French Revolution. Much of his work was posthumously published in an incomplete state after he was killed in action in World War I....

     (French historian)
  • Alan Seeger
    Alan Seeger
    Alan Seeger was an American poet who fought and died in World War I serving in the French Foreign Legion. A statue to his memory and to...

     (American poet, volunteered in the French Foreign Legion
    French Foreign Legion
    The French Foreign Legion is a unique military service wing of the French Army established in 1831. The foreign legion was exclusively created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces...

    )
  • Alban Arnold
    Alban Arnold
    Alban Charles Phidias Arnold was an English cricketer. Arnold was a right-handed batsman who played primarily as a wicketkeeper....

     (British cricketer)
  • Raymond Asquith
    Raymond Asquith
    Raymond Asquith was an English barrister and eldest son and heir of British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith by his first wife Helen Kelsall Melland .- Career and honours :...

     (British barrister and son of the then Prime Minister)
  • William Baker
    William Baker (footballer)
    William James Baker was an English professional footballer who played 202 games in the Southern League and FA Cup for Plymouth Argyle between 1909 and 1915. He played as a wing half....

     (British footballer)
  • Guy Baring
    Guy Baring
    Guy Victor Baring was a British Army officer and politician. He became a Conservative member of the British Parliament but was one of 22 Members killed in action in the First World War.-Background:...

     (British politician)
  • Donald Simpson Bell
    Donald Simpson Bell
    Donald Simpson Bell VC was an English school teacher and professional footballer. During the First World War he was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions in the Somme.-Football:...

     (British footballer)
  • Major Booth
    Major Booth
    This page is about an English Cricketer. For other persons named William Booth, see William Booth .Major William Booth was a cricketer who played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 1908 and 1914, a season in which he was named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the...

     (British cricketer)
  • William Buckingham
    William Buckingham
    William Buckingham VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Background:...

     (British recipient of the Victoria Cross
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    )
  • William Burns
    William Burns (cricketer)
    William Beaumont Burns was an English cricketer who played more than 200 first-class matches in the early 20th century, the great bulk of them for Worcestershire, for whom he filled in as captain on a number of occasions when the usual incumbents were not available...

     (British cricketer)
  • George Butterworth
    George Butterworth
    George Sainton Kaye Butterworth, MC was an English composer best known for the orchestral idyll The Banks of Green Willow and his song settings of A. E...

     (British composer)
  • Geoffrey Cather (British recipient of the Victoria Cross
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    )
  • Cecil Christmas
    Cecil Christmas
    Edwin Cecil Russell Christmas was an English amateur footballer who played twice for Southampton in 1912.-Playing career:...

     (British footballer)
  • Christopher Collier (British cricketer)
  • Billy Congreve (British recipient of the Victoria Cross
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    )
  • William Crozier
    William Crozier (cricketer)
    William Magee Crozier was an Irish cricketer. A right-handed batsman, he played one first-class match for Dublin University against Leicestershire in June 1895....

     (Irish cricketer)
  • Bernard Donaghy
    Bernard Donaghy
    Bernard Donaghy was an Irish footballer, whose regular position was as an inside forward. He was born in Derry, and played for Derry Celtic, Manchester United, Glentoran, and Burnley. He also made one international appearance for Ireland, playing against Scotland at the Balmoral Showgrounds in 1902...

     (Irish footballer)
  • Edward Dwyer
    Edward Dwyer
    Corporal Edward Dwyer VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

     (British recipient of the Victoria Cross
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    )
  • Charles Duncombe, 2nd Earl of Feversham
    Charles Duncombe, 2nd Earl of Feversham
    Lieutenant-Colonel Charles William Reginald Duncombe, 2nd Earl of Feversham , known as Viscount Helmsley from 1881 to 1915, was a British Conservative Party politician and soldier....

     (British politician)
  • Alfred Flaxman
    Alfred Flaxman
    Alfred Edward Flaxman was a British track and field athlete who competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics.He was born in Wombwell, South Yorkshire and was killed in action in Gommecourt, Pas-de-Calais, France....

     (British athlete)
  • Alan Foster
    Alan Foster (footballer)
    Alan Foster was an English footballer born in Rawmarsh, Yorkshire, who scored one goal from 13 appearances in the Football League playing as an inside forward for Bristol City....

     (British footballer)
  • Rowland Fraser
    Rowland Fraser
    Rowland Fraser was a rugby union player. He was killed in France in World War I, during the Battle of the SommeHe played for Cambridge University RFC and was capped for in 1911.He was in the Rifle Brigade...

     (British rugby union player)
  • Albert Gill
    Albert Gill
    Albert Gill VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

     (British recipient of the Victoria Cross
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    )
  • Duncan Glasfurd (British army officer)
  • John Leslie Green
    John Leslie Green
    John Leslie Green VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Early life:...

     (British recipient of the Victoria Cross
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    )
  • Fred Longstaff (British rugby league player)
  • Billy McFadzean (Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    )

External links

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