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IWM: What most people get wrong about the Battle of the Somme


Imperial War Museum

The Battle of the Somme began on the 1st of July 1916. After a week-long artillery bombardment of the German lines, tens of thousands of Allied troops went ‘over the top’ in an attack that would become synonymous with the horrors of trench warfare. The British army took over 57,000 casualties on the first day alone making it the bloodiest day in British military history. But who really won the Battle of the Somme? To find out, we have to look at the Somme beyond the first day.

Despite heavy losses on both sides, fighting continued for another 141 days. During the rest of the battle, the British experimented with new tactics like creeping barrages and new technologies like the tank. By the end of the battle the British had advanced a maximum of 7 miles, but they had taken a sizeable chunk out of the German army.

In this episode of IWM Stories, Alan Wakefield looks at the Battle of the Somme with the help of archive film, photographs and battle maps.

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