The Deadliest Battle of World War I

19/11/2015 11:46  |  Military

The battles of World War I are at the forefront of the nation’s mind as the centenary commemorations for the Great War continue. It is still one of the deadliest conflicts the world has ever seen, with an estimated 38 million casualties. The UK recently remembered the victims of the Great War, and other conflicts including WWII, at annual Remembrance Day ceremonies held across the country on November 11th. The time and date of the two minute silence was chosen because it was on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month 1918 that the armistice was signed and brought an end to World War I.

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the largest battle of WWI and one of the bloodiest in history; the Battle of the Somme. So confident were the British commanding officers in the success of their strategy that on July 1st 1916, they ordered their troops to walk across No Man’s Land towards the German trenches, not suspecting the awaiting German guns. By the end of the first day, Britain had suffered 60,000 casualties. The conflict lasted just 141 days and in that short space of time claimed over one million casualties.   

Desperate for some sort of victory and hoping to wreak irrecoverable damage to the enemy’s front, the British made history by using tanks for the first time in combat during the Somme. Unfortunately the tanks were not as successful as anticipated and few made it to their desired targets. Even so, the tanks represented a major advancement in mechanical warfare and would have caused serious psychological impact on the enemy.

On 1st July 2016, to mark the centenary of the beginning of the conflict, the public are invited to join commemorations being held at the Thiepval Memorial in France, a monument dedicated to 72,000 missing British and French soldiers who died at the Somme. Each nation that participated will be represented in the ceremony which will be broadcast to large screens in towns across France and the UK. The ceremony will remember all of those who lost their lives during the battle, a poignant reminder of the sacrifice many ordinary men made for their country. The devastation of this campaign is still felt today and is expected to attract great public interest, therefore a ballot has been opened to allocate 4,000 pairs of tickets, free of charge. 

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