One of the most destructive events of the First World War, the Battle of the Somme was a 142-day campaign including a series of smaller battles. To the British, it is symbolic of how World War One was fought.
1. Why Fight at the Somme?By 1916, there was a stalemate on the Western Front. Both sides were heavily dug in, trench positions providing defenders with the advantage despite the expected offensive power of artillery.
The French were eager to remove the German invaders from their soil. While not as powerfully motivated, the British also wanted a win.
To achieve this, the Allies decided to launch an offensive in the Somme region, where British and French lines met. This would allow both armies to take part.
While they were still planning, the Germans launched an attack on the French at Verdun. This drew French resources into a battle of attrition there, placing the onus upon the British to fight the Somme campaign.
The attack now had an extra purpose – to draw away German resources, relieving pressure on Verdun.