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Battle of the Somme

Battle on the Somme, by Oskar Martin Amorbach, showing the blue Hessen (Infantry Regiment Lieb, 'Grand Duchess') in combat against British troops.
Text:
Signed: Oskar Martin Amorbach
München
Reverse:
Regiments-Gedenktag des ehem. Infanterie Liebregiments, 'Großherzogin' (3. Großherzoglich Hessisches) Nr. 117 1697–1922
Die blauen Hessen im Kampfe mit Engländern im Sommegebiet September 1916
Kunstdruck Gerling & Erbes, Darmstadt. Nr. 27008
Regimental memorial of the former. Infantry Regiment Lieb, 'Grand Duchess' (3 Großherzoglich Hessian) No. 117 1697-1922
The blue Hessen at war with British in Somme area September 1916
Art Print Gerling & heritage, Darmstadt. No. 27008

Battle on the Somme, by Oskar Martin Amorbach, showing the blue Hessen (Infantry Regiment Lieb, 'Grand Duchess') in combat against British troops.

Image text

Signed: Oskar Martin Amorbach

München



Reverse:

Regiments-Gedenktag des ehem. Infanterie Liebregiments, 'Großherzogin' (3. Großherzoglich Hessisches) Nr. 117 1697–1922

Die blauen Hessen im Kampfe mit Engländern im Sommegebiet September 1916



Kunstdruck Gerling & Erbes, Darmstadt. Nr. 27008



Regimental memorial of the former. Infantry Regiment Lieb, 'Grand Duchess' (3 Großherzoglich Hessian) No. 117 1697-1922

The blue Hessen at war with British in Somme area September 1916



Art Print Gerling & heritage, Darmstadt. No. 27008

Other views: Larger, Back

On July 1, 1916, after a preliminary five-day bombardment with 12,000 tons of shells, French, British and Commonwealth troops went over the top, climbing out of their trenches and attacking on a front over 20 miles wide along the Somme River in the greatest Allied offensive to date. The bombardment gave the defenders ample warning of the impending assault, and created shell craters that made the advance difficult.

The site of the battle was chosen when it was the junction of the French and British armies on the Western Front, and the troops and extent of the front was roughly equivalent. But the siege of Verdun put heavy demands on the French, who turned over more of the front line to the British. The British and Commonwealth forces held more of the battle line, and fielded more troops.

Rather than a creeping barrage which shelled ahead of the troops, coordinating its advance with theirs, the artillery fired on the first German line, then lifted from the first line to the second. The defenders were able to regroup, and put their machine guns to work.

On July 1 the British suffered 60,000 casualties, 19,240 of them dead, the greatest one-day loss for any army during the war. The Newfoundland Battalion lost 91% of its men in 40 minutes, and other Commonwealth forces suffered heavily.

The Allies renewed their offensive in July and September. On September 25, the British used tanks for the first time, but in small numbers to little effect. The battle ended with a final British attack on November 13. In the campaign the British lost 420,000 men, the French 194,000. The defending Germans lost 440,000 men, many of them in counter-attacks to retake lost ground.

The battle changed British attitudes toward the war as soldiers and civilians saw the lives of brave men away thrown away by blundering, obstinate generals.

Although deeply dug in, the Germans had been unprepared for the superior forces — in men and artillery — the Allies had fielded.

1916-07-01

1916-11-13