The Battle of the Somme is the next World War One battle to be mentioned in Angel of Mercy.
Here’s what you need to know about the battle.
When: July 1-November 18, 1916
Where: Near Somme River, France
Who: The nations involved were
- Great Britain
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Southern Rhodesia
What: The major events of the battle were
- On the opening day, British artillery inadvertently left the infantry exposed as many shells were duds. As a consequence, July 1 is known as the bloodiest day in British history. Ironically, heavy casualties were not expected for the battle and the trip across No Man’s Land was expected to be easy.
- In the span of half an hour, one Newfoundland regiment lost all but 91 men. The regiment had started the battle with a strength of 801 men.
- Several smaller offensives were fought as part of the larger Somme Offensive.
- The battle was the first to make use of tanks. They debuted at the offensive of Flers-Courcelette in September. The offensive also marked the arrival of the Canadians and New Zealanders to the battle.
- The battle ended because the weather intervened and made fighting difficult.
Why: The attack took place because
- The battle was part of a plan for attacks to be conducted simultaneously on the Western, Eastern and Italian fronts to distract the Central Powers.
- In this case, the battle was intended to relieve the pressure placed on the French at Verdun, a battle that had begun months earlier.
- The battle is considered one of the bloodiest in history. Casualties totaled 1.5 million.
- Britain lost so many soldiers the death toll was higher than the Crimean War, the Boer War and the Korean War combined. Many soldiers were fighting in their first battle.
- There was no clear victor and the battle was considered a stalemate. In fact, the most the Allies advanced was seven miles.
Prior to today had you ever heard of the Battle of the Somme? Leave a comment below.
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