The Somme July–September 1916


Map Code: Ax00187

Due to inclement weather, General Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Forces on the western front, postponed the first assault on the German front line at the Somme to 1 July 1916. Although preliminary bombardment in June had little impact, the British generals were convinced that a three-pronged assault using artillery barrage, infantry and cavalry charge would break the German defences. Instead, 100,000 British soldiers were mown down by machine gun and artillery fire and failed to destroy the German defences. On 14 July at dawn, the British troops penetrated 6,000 yards into German territory, taking Longueval village in the northern Somme. After a further three months of attrition, on 15 September 1916, Haig launched a major attack using Mark 1 tanks, 12 divisions of men and 828,000 shells. The British advanced 1.5 miles (2.5 km) and took the wood around Pozieres and Bozentin-le-Petit. Despite this victory, there were 29,000 British casualties.

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