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Battle of the Somme

Canadian soldiers, who fought in the Allied forces, go “over the top” at the Battle of the Somme.The Battle of the Somme, which began on 1st July 1916, was one of the bloodiest campaigns of World War I. More than a million Allied and German soldiers were killed or injured following 141 days of fighting across the farmland near the River Somme in northern France. The generals were not used to fighting wars with weapons such as machine guns, grenades and artillery. As in earlier wars, they ordered their men to march on the enemy in long rows—allowing them to be mown down. The Battle of the Somme began with British and French armies attempting to break through German lines.


{alt}Footage of the Battle of the Somme, July 1916{more}Click to play videoThe Allies bombarded German trenches with artillery shells for seven days and then, on 1st July 1916, sent 100,000 men “over the top” (climbing out of their defensive trenches) to attack the German lines. But the Germans, protected by their own deep trenches, somehow managed to weather the storm. As the British soldiers advanced across “No Man's Land”—the few hundred metres of ground between the British and German lines—they were mown down by machine gunfire. 
In total, 19,240 British soldiers were killed with a further 38,230 injured. It was the bloodiest day in the history of the British army. The British forces gained less than eight square kilometres (three square miles) of territory. Yet, in spite of these heavy losses, General Douglas Haig decided to press on with more attacks.
British troops in their trench. Some soldiers rest while others are treated for their wounds. A few peer over the parapet into...Read More >>British troops in their trench. Some soldiers rest while others are treated for their wounds. A few peer over the parapet into "No Man's Land" , the few hundred metres of ground between them and the German lines.

On 1st July 2016, at 7:28 am, the UK observed a two minute silence to mark the start of the Battle of the Somme which began exactly 100 years earlier. All BBC radio stations participated in the silence.

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