Allied Forces, 1,500,000
General Ferdinand Foch, Commander-in-Chief British Army, 700,000
General Sir Douglas Haig, Commander
General Sir Henry Rawlinson
General Sir Herbert Gough
French Army, 800,000
German Forces, 1,300,000
General Falkenhayn, Chief-of-Staff
Northern Group—Duke of Wurttemburg
Central Group—Crown Prince of Bavaria
Southern Group—German Crown Prince
General von Buelow
1,375,000 Soldiers Fall in the First Battle of the Somme
England's First Citizen Army, newly arrived in France, in co-operation with a French Army, received its baptism of fire in that pitiless five-months' struggle in Picardy known as the First Battle of the Somme. For sheer waste of men, blundering tactics and the inefficiency of the lesser officers commanding, this battle holds a unique place among the more tragic encounters of the World War.
The Battle of the Somme, which opened on July 1, 1916, had for its principal object the reduction of the German salient at Noyon, whose apex projected westward to within 50 miles of Paris. Its secondary object was to relieve the pressure upon the French at Verdun by compelling the Germans to transfer a considerable force from that theater of war to the Somme. The battle was fought on a 30-mile front, bounded by the Rivers Ancre and Somme, the British holding 20 and the French 10 miles of the line. The immediate objective of the British was Bapaume; that of the French, Peronne. The Allied forces numbered 1,500,000 men and the Germans 1,300,000.
After the range of the German trenches had been found by the Allied airships, there was launched on June 28, 1916, a most terrific artillery bombardment, which continued incessantly for four days and nights, rising to a hurricane pitch of fury. It was only partially successful, for the Germans had built themselves perfect protection from shell-fire in the form of large bomb-p...