News: This Week in 1916 – The Battle of the Somme ends

Posted on 9th November 2016

Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in World War I, calls off the Battle of the Somme in France after nearly five months of mass slaughter.

The massive Allied offensive began at 7:30 a.m. on July 1, 1916, when 100,000 British soldiers poured out of their trenches and into no-man’s-land. During the preceding week, 250,000 Allied shells had pounded German positions near the Somme River, and the British expected to find the way cleared for them. However, scores of heavy German machine guns had survived the artillery onslaught, and the invading infantry were massacred. By the end of the day, 20,000 British soldiers were dead and 40,000 wounded. It was the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history.

After the initial disaster, Haig resigned himself to smaller but equally ineffectual advances, and more than 1,000 Allied lives were extinguished for every 100 yards gained on the Germans. Even Britain’s September 15 introduction of tanks into warfare for the first time in history failed to break the deadlock in the Battle of the Somme. In October, heavy rains turned the battlefield into a sea of mud, and on November 18 Haig called off the Somme offensive after more than four months of slaughter.

Except for its effect of diverting German troops from the Battle of Verdun, the offensive was a miserable disaster. It amounted to a total gain of just 125 square miles for the Allies, with more than 600,000 British and French soldiers killed, wounded, or missing in action. German casualties were more than 650,000. Although Haig was severely criticized for the costly battle, his willingness to commit massive amounts of men and resources to the stalemate along the western front eventually contributed to the collapse of an exhausted Germany in 1918

Back to News ›

Testimonials

"The BHBPA is, for us, a valuable conduit to the Burgess Hill business community through advice, information and access to other businesses and resources within the area. It gives us a sense of belonging."

Valerie Scott, Finance Director
(Icon Live Limited)

"I am delighted to have a long-standing relationship with the BHBPA. Since its foundation the Association has gone from strength to strength and there is no doubt that it has brought huge benefits to its members and the business community as a whole through the partnerships it has formed with the local authorities, Sussex Police and local organisations. It is paramount that Burgess Hill businesses have an effective collective voice."

The Hon Nicholas Soames MP

""BHBPA is a really well organised and run group, great for networking and benefitting from knowledgeable local speakers with real business insight. Peter brings enthusiasm and humour which helps drive the association forward. I am glad to be part of it.""

Dave Farmer, German Translator
(Dave Farmer & Co)

"Since joining BHBPA we have found it to be a dynamic and vibrant members’ organisation, with excellent, regular and informative meetings.

Peter Liddell does a first class job in ensuring that members’ interests are aired and addressed.
"

Mark O'Shea, Partner
(Rawlison Butler)