SSAFA remembers the Battle of the Somme a century on
On this day in 1916, British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig calls a halt to his army’s offensive near the Somme River in northwestern France, ending the epic Battle of the Somme after more than four months of bloody conflict. A conflict that would forever symbolise the horrors of the First World War.
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After a full week of artillery bombardment, the offensive began in earnest on the morning of July 1, 1916, when soldiers from 11 British divisions emerged from their trenches near the Somme River in northwestern France and advanced toward the German front lines. The initial advance was a disaster, as the six German divisions facing the advancing British mowed them down with their machine guns, killing or wounding some 60,000 men on the first day alone: the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history to that point. Over the course of the next four-and-a-half months and no fewer than 90 attacks, the Allies were able to advance a total of only six miles in the Somme region, unable to break through the German lines. In total, there were over one million dead and wounded on all sides.
On November 18, 1916, Haig finally called off the offensive, insisting in his official dispatch from the front that the Somme operation had achieved its objectives. Despite its commander’s positive assessment, the Battle of the Somme would remain one of the most controversial operations of World War I.
Join SSAFA in commemorating the centenary and remembering all those that served and those that lost their lives.
Read memories from the Somme:
SSAFA volunteer, Peter Rogerson, reflects on his father’s memoirs from the Battle of the Somme.
SSAFA volunteer, Meyrick Aylward, relives his grandfather Major Dick Wooley’s story of surviving the Somme and being captured by the Germans.
Attend an event
Don’t miss your last chance to see the shrouds of the somme at Bristol Cathedral - all donations going to our Bristol branch.
SSAFA Wiltshire is holding a commemorative World War One day at Salisbury Cathedral from 9am-6pm, where you can see their ‘100 hearts’ project amongst other activities.
Enlist in a challenge event
Commemorate the cycling soldiers by signing up to our Ride to the Somme, cycling 200 miles over 3 days taking in many monuments along the way.