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The Battle of the Somme : A British victory at tragic cost, in which both sides had to learn a new way of fighting.
The Battle of the Somme

In February 1916, Germany launched an offensive at Verdun in Lorraine, near the German border with France. To relieve the French forces, the British tried to draw the Germans north to the River Somme in Picardy.

THE first day of the Battle of the Somme, which began on the 1st of July, 1916, with the Battle of Albert, constituted a heavy defeat for the Germans, and overall the Somme was declared a victory for the Allies.

But the British lost over 60,000 men on that one day, the bloodiest in the history of the British Army.

By the time it was all over on the 18th of November, casualties on both sides had grown to more than a million.

The Somme marked the beginning of modern, industrial warfare. The British Army deployed tanks for the first time here, and sent aircraft to spy far behind enemy lines.

Artillery was more powerful, and armies were larger, than ever before. The battlefields were a maze of shell-craters and muddy, chaotic trenches; the noise was unrelenting, the sights were harrowing.

Learning how to fight like this was costly in the most heart-breaking way.

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Picture: © Wernervc, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0. View original
The cross in the Devonshire Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, near Mametz in Picardie, France. Those buried here are, with two exceptions, soldiers from 8th and 9th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment.

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