The First World War battle of the Somme continues, to this day, to fascinate and appal in equal measures. Much has been written about the ground war the first day of which saw the greatest number of British casualties than had occurred before in the entire history of the British Army… 19,240 were dead and 38,230 injured. The fighting over a 16 mile front lasted almost 5 months, after which the Allied troops had advanced about 6 miles. The butchers bill of casualties was horrendous. The combined Commonwealth countries number reached nearly 60,000 but was dwarfed by the United Kingdom’s casualty number of over 350,000. The battle opened on the 1st of July 1916 with a massed explosion that ranks amongst the largest non nuclear explosions in history and was then considered the loudest human made sound to date, audible beyond London 160 miles away.  It was witnessed by an 18 year old RFC pilot.



The mine under Hawthorn Ridge


Then the dust cleared and we saw the two white eyes of the craters


Going over the top


The la Boisselle mine crater now and then.


Pip’s landing


The Fokker Eindecker


Bristol Fighters


A dogfight


The battlefield



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to British First World War Air Service Photo Section, Ernest Brooks, Henry Armytage Sanders, H. D. Girdwood, the RFC and the IWM.