The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the Somme, a river in France. This memorial, which stands in Heaton Park, Manchester UK, stands to remember those who were injured or who lost their lives during the four month battle, which began on 1st July 1916.
In total over a million men from both sides – including Britain and her Empire forces, France and Germany – became casualties during the battle. As an attritional offensive, the Battle of the Somme involved heavy casualties on both sides. By the end of the first day on 1 July 1916, British forces had suffered 57,470 casualties, of whom 19,240 were killed. This represented the largest losses suffered by the British Army in a single day. By the end of the Battle, British troops sustained 420,000 casualties, including 125,000 individuals who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme. However, the casualties also included 200,000 French troops and 500,000 German soldiers.
The offensive began on 1 July 1916 after a week-long artillery bombardment of the German lines. Advancing British troops found that the German defences had not been destroyed as expected and many units suffered very high casualties with little progress. Shortly after the Battle commenced, The Somme became an attritional or 'wearing-out' battle. On 15 September, tanks were used for the first time with some success, but they did not bring a breakthrough any closer. Operations on the River Ancre continued with some gains, but in deteriorating weather conditions major operations on the Somme ended on 18 November. Over the course of the battle, British forces took a strip of territory 6 miles (10km) deep by 20 miles (32km) long.
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🔗 Text adapted from: Imperial War Museum (https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-battle-of-the-somme), and History (https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/battle-of-the-somme)
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