1 July – 18 November 1916

WW1 - Battle of the Somme

One of the defining battles of the First World War, the Somme began on a summers day on 1st July 1916 when 57,000 British soldiers fell in a single day: the blackest, most costly day in British military history.

The Facts

  • Date: 1 July – 18 November 1916
  • Location: Somme, France
Countries Involved
British Empire
German Empire
Countries Commanders
Douglas Haig
Ferdinand Foch
Henry Rawlinson
Émile Fayolle
Hubert Gough
Joseph Alfred Micheler
Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria
Max von Gallwitz
Fritz von Below
Number of Casualties
Over 600,000 Over 900,000

Battle result: Inconclusive

But the fighting went on and gradually the Germans were pushed back. Tanks were used here for the first time at Flers-Courcelette on 15th September 1916 and the British Army began the start of a change in approach to the fighting, but always at great cost.

The Somme came to a close on 18th November 1916 in a snowstorm. By that time more than 450,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers had become casualties with more than 150,000 killed. The fighting destroyed the German defences on the Somme, forcing them to withdraw to the Hindenburg Line in 1917, but at such a cost that it will forever remain one of the most controversial battles of WW1.

British Mark I tank

British Mark I tank

Learn more about this battle on the following Leger Battlefield tours

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