The Battle of the Somme (July-November 1916)


The Battle of the Somme (July-August 1916)

- BEF grew in size and took over responsibility for defending more territory from the French

- The BEF expanded the miles of their trenches outwards to the south of the original area of Ypres

- By the spring of 1916 the border between the British and the French armies was around the valley of the River Somme

- Was chosen for the site for the joint British-French Summer 1916 offensive as it was the point were forces met each other

Strategic motive behind the attack = take pressure off the French


Britain, France and Russia launched a co-ordinated attack on the Germans to break the stalemate (in phase two)

- Had 2.5 million soldiers and was under the commandship of General Haig

Feb 1916:

Germans attacked the French at Verdun with their own strategy (to cause immense losses for the French) --> British aim = to take pressure off the French at Verdun

Meant that the offensive was primarily a British attack as German trenches were bombarded for a week in advance of the attack and everyone assumed that the German trench system and the barbed wire guarding it would be destroyed

ALSO because the French had had a reduced role in the joint assault

Before battle: artillery bombardment for a week existed to cut barbed wire and to destroy German trenches and dug-outs

- 1.5 million shells were fired (1m of shrapnel - not high explosives)

1st July 1916

Attack = by Fourth Army of Sir Henry Rawlinson who had 17 divisions available that was made of Kitchener's New Army troops:

- e.g. Pals' Battalion

- was on


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