On the 1st July 2016, 101 years ago to the day, the world saw the start to one of the bloodiest battles in recent history.
19,240 British and Empire soldiers lost their lives by the end of the first day of the 141 day battle; the Battle that would further claim a million casualties in total on all sides.
With a distinct lack of tactics many men bravely simply walked straight into heavily fortified German defences, thought to be destroyed with weeks of artillery fire.
The ‘big-push’ was a result of trench war-fare reaching a stale-mate. It remains to this day one of the bloodiest days in the British Army’s history. An amazing 60% of British officers who were involved on the first day lost their lives.
Despite the devastating casualties, totalling 1.2millions from both sides, the battle was ultimately a strategic victory for the British.
The original goal of the offensive had been to break the trench lines and return to mobile warfare. The Somme offensive began with the main objective of simply relieving the pressure on the French at Verdun. In this it succeeded.
Moreover, it hurt the Germans badly and ultimately brought America into the war. Many people agree the battle was an important step towards Allied victory in 1918.
The cemeteries and memorials built and cared for by the CWGC across the Somme, include: Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery, Thiepval Memorial, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, and Serre Road Cemetery No.2.
These stand as a lasting reminder of the human cost of the fighting in this region throughout the First World War.
For more information about the battle of the Somme you can visit the Imperial War Museum webpage collection here.