The Battle of the Somme was an unprecedented massacre. After the first day of battle, the British had lost 60.000 men of whom 20.000 being killed. The thrust of the attack was done by the ‘Pals’ battalions. These were volunteers who had responded to the call of Lord Kitchener to join the army in August 1914. Many of them had never been ‘over the top’. The shoulder-by-shoulder marches over No Man’s Land proved the wrong tactic to take the German defenses.
The battle would die out in November 1916. The objective, actually, was not one to be found at the Somme any way. The German attack at Verdun, which had started in February 1916, was sucking up all French reserves and much more. At the end of February 1916, General Joffre urged the British to execute the attack at the Somme which they have planned together a few months earlier but now with limited French involvement. The British responded.
As the national armies were rapidly adapting to the large scale warfare, by 1916, they all had the capacity and the plan to unleash hell on the enemy. Verdun and the Somme on the Western Front, the Brusilov Offensive and Isonzo on the Eastern Front made all together more than 4 million casualties in 1916.
On our day tour at the Somme we visit the Thiepval Memorial, the Ulster Tower, Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, Lochnagar mine crater, Delville Wood South-African Memorial and the Australian Memorial at Pozières.