The Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme is a byword for British sacrifice in the Great War; from a deadly summer's day to snow which ended the fighting.
They shall not grow old
As we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
And in the Morning
We will remember them
Pay your respects to French and British military history. See where one of the bloodiest battles in history was fought during World War I, while learning about the battle’s causes and repercussions
The Battle of the Somme lasted from 1st July to 18th November 1916, and is possibly one of the most recognisable and widely known battles of the First World War with over a million people being killed or wounded. July 1st 1916 was the worst day in British Military history, with almost 20,000 men killed in just two hours. Some 100,000 British soldiers climbed from their trenches and advanced towards the German lines in waves. Many were cut down by machine gun fire as the Germans emerged from deep dug-outs following the allied shelling. Several attacks faltered on the often-uncut thickets of German defensive barbed wire or lost coherence in heavily-cratered ground, though gains were made in the southern sector of the British attack.
Despite the casualties suffered throughout (British: 420,000; French: 200,000; German 450,000), the advance on the Somme took the high ground from Thiepval to Marval; it took German pressure off the French at Verdun, and also off the Russians on the Eastern Front for many months. British troops who fought on the Somme learned significant lessons and helped develop tactics and equipment that would see the eventual victory in 1918.
The tour will focus on the terrible Black Day of the British Army - 1st July 1916. See the key areas along the front line treading the ground and walking across the land where so many casualties fell, remembering the men of London, the North Midlands and Monmouthshire who fought and died at Gommecourt; also taking in the new Somme Museum at Thiepval.
We look at the Pals battalions who took part in the assault on Serre. Here men from many northern towns and cities suffered crippling casualties and we walk the battlefield around the Sheffield Memorial Park seeing the battlefield cemeteries and memorials, and the remains of British trenches. We see the Serre Road No 1 cemetery and contrast the fighting at the beginning of the battle with the end in November 1916.
We view the Redan Ridge where more than 10% of the casualties of 1st July were suffered. We see the battlefield cemeteries on the ridge and walk down to the famous Sunken Lane at Beaumont Hamel where the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers made their advance. We walk the battlefield at Thiepval. Starting in the village we contrast the village of today with the one of 1914 - one of the biggest on the Somme. We walk across to the battlefield where the 36th (Ulster) Division fought and follow the tracks to where the Schwaben Redoubt was. We end in the nearby village of St. Pierre Divion and walk across to the river Ancre.
During The Battle of the Somme over four million combatants engaged on a forty kilometre front. By November 1916 at the end of the battle, the territorial gain was between 8 and 12 kilometres. Not surprisingly then, a major feature of the Somme tour is the proliferation of cemeteries that were established all across the area during and after the war; a stark and lasting reminder of the human loss in a battle fought at such terrible cost that it has come to symbolise the tragic futility of the First World War.