cover image

Battle of the Somme

WWI battle pitting France and Britain against Germany / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dear Wikiwand AI, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:

Can you list the top facts and stats about Battle of the Somme?

Summarize this article for a 10 years old


The Battle of the Somme (French: Bataille de la Somme; German: Schlacht an der Somme), also known as the Somme offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and the French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the river Somme in France. The battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies. More than three million men fought in the battle, of whom one million were either wounded or killed, making it one of the deadliest battles in all of human history.

Quick facts: Battle of the Somme, Date, Location, Result, ...
Battle of the Somme
Part of the Western Front of the First World War
Complete map of the Battle of the Somme
Date1 July 1916 – 18 November 1916 (140 days)
Somme River, north-central Somme and south-eastern Pas-de-Calais Départements, France
50°00′56″N 02°41′51″E
Result Indecisive
Bulge driven into the Noyon salient
Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg British Empire
Flag_of_France_%281794%E2%80%931815%2C_1830%E2%80%931974%29.svg France
Flag_of_Germany_%281867%E2%80%931918%29.svg Germany
Commanders and leaders
French Third Republic Joseph Joffre
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Douglas Haig
French Third Republic Ferdinand Foch
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Henry Rawlinson
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Hubert Gough
French Third Republic Émile Fayolle
French Third Republic Joseph Alfred Micheler
German Empire Erich von Falkenhayn
German Empire Paul von Hindenburg
German Empire Erich Ludendorff
German Empire Rupprecht of Bavaria
German Empire Max von Gallwitz
German Empire Fritz von Below
1 July
British Empire 13 divisions
French Third Republic 11 divisions
British Empire 50 divisions
French Third Republic 48 divisions
1 July
German Empire 10 12 divisions
German Empire 50 divisions
Casualties and losses
British Empire c.420,000[1]
(95,675 killed or missing)
French Third Republic c.200,000[2]
(50,729 killed or missing)
German Empire c.440,000[3]
41,605 men captured by French[4]
31,396 men captured by British[4]

The French and British had committed themselves to an offensive on the Somme during the Chantilly Conference in December 1915. The Allies agreed upon a strategy of combined offensives against the Central Powers in 1916 by the French, Russian, British and Italian armies, with the Somme offensive as the Franco-British contribution. Initial plans called for the French army to undertake the main part of the Somme offensive, supported on the northern flank by the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). When the Imperial German Army began the Battle of Verdun on the Meuse on 21 February 1916, French commanders diverted many of the divisions intended for the Somme and the "supporting" attack by the British became the principal effort. The British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war army, the Territorial Force and Kitchener's Army, a force of wartime volunteers.

On the first day on the Somme (1 July) the German 2nd Army suffered a serious defeat opposite the French Sixth Army, from Foucaucourt-en-Santerre south of the Somme to Maricourt on the north bank and by the Fourth Army from Maricourt to the vicinity of the AlbertBapaume road. The 57,470 casualties suffered by the British, including 19,240 killed, were the worst in the history of the British Army. Most of the British casualties were suffered on the front between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt to the north, which was the area where the principal German defensive effort (Schwerpunkt) was made. The battle became notable for the importance of air power and the first use of the tank in September but these were a product of new technology and proved unreliable.

At the end of the battle, British and French forces had penetrated 6 mi (10 km) into German-occupied territory along the majority of the front, their largest territorial gain since the First Battle of the Marne in 1914. The operational objectives of the Anglo-French armies were unfulfilled, as they failed to capture Péronne and Bapaume, where the German armies maintained their positions over the winter. British attacks in the Ancre valley resumed in January 1917 and forced the Germans into local withdrawals to reserve lines in February before the strategic retreat by about 25 mi (40 km) in Operation Alberich to the Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line) in March 1917. Debate continues over the necessity, significance and effect of the battle.