The Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme was to be the British Army’s major offensive on the Western Front in 1916. The main line of assault ran for 25,000 yards, nearly 14 miles. After a prolonged week-long artillery bombardment of the German positions, the storm of British shells increased just prior to zero-hour and, with staggering effect, merged with huge mine explosions to herald the attack. At 7.30am, on a clear midsummer’s morning, the British infantry emerged from their trenches and advanced in extended lines across the grassy expanse of No Man’s Land.
There they met a hail of machine-gun and rifle fire from the surviving German defenders. Accurate German barrages, immediately added to the pandemonium, as shells engulfed the attackers and wrecked the crowded British assembly trenches. The advancing infantry suffered enormous casualties.
1 July 1916 witnessed extraordinary gallantry, immeasurable suffering and an unprecedented number of casualties. Despite the terrible setbacks Fourth Army HQ ordered its Corps to continue to attack and set objectives for the next day. The battle was to rage for another 148 days. There were 31 392 killed and missing with a further 35 493 wounded and 585 taken prisoner.
The app provides you with the location of parking places to use with each stand as well as nearby cafes, restaurants, visitors’ centres and museums that you may wish to visit. One of the most obvious and ubiquitous features on the Somme battlefield are the scores of military cemeteries that pepper the landscape. The cemeteries closest to the stands you will visit and your route along the battlefront are included in this app with descriptions of each one.
In the cemeteries and on the memorials you will be able to find the final resting place or commemoration of many of the men mentioned during this tour; individuals who bring a sense of perspective to the incomprehensible scale of loss on the 1st of July 1916. Private Iles who was killed aged just 16 along with hundreds of his comrades from his home town of Leeds. Private McFadzean who’s unimaginable act of self-sacrifice earned him the Victoria Cross and saved dozens of his fellow Irishmen. The poet Lieutenant Hodgson who appeared to have a terrible premonition of his own death and turned it into poetry. Captain Nevill who encouraged his men to cross no man’s land in the face of machine gun fire by providing them with footballs to kick towards the enemy trenches.