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Home > What was it like to fight in the Battle of the Somme?



The Official View

The infantry officer's view

The artillery officer's view

18 Durham Light Infantry

Details about the Battle of the Somme

Lessons learned from the Somme




Image of soldiers advancing across the battlefield at the Somme.

Image of soldiers advancing across the battlefield at the Somme. (DUL ref: Lowe Papers File B1)



Practically everybody has heard of the Battle of the Somme. It has become a byword for military futility and for many it represents the depths to which the 'butchering and bungling' generals of the First World War sank. Many historians have seconded this view: A J P Taylor said that the Battle "achieved nothing." This view was undoubtedly coloured by the tragically high casualty rates - over 1 million men on all sides were killed or injured in the Battle. However, more recently, historians such as Gary Sheffield, Paddy Griffiths and Peter Simpkins have argued that the Somme was not just an unmitigated disaster. Instead, they argue that real, albeit shaky, progress was made between July and November 1916, progress that would ultimately lead to victory in late 1918. No doubt the Somme will continue to be a subject of historical debate and scrutiny. In order to find out more about the Battle of the Somme, we're going to look at a number of different accounts dating back to the period - an official message sent to the troops, an infantry officer's account, an artillery officer's recollections and a battalion history.

Go to source 1Go to Source 2Go to Source 3

Go to Source 4


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