The Battle of the Somme, one of World War One’s bloodiest battles, began on 1 July 1916, 100 years ago today.
More than a million men were killed and wounded on all sides in the five month battle, with the British suffering almost 60,000 casualties on the first day alone.
On 3 August 1916, Corporal Reginald Salmon – who survived the battle – wrote,
“The remarkable strategical structure & position of the German trenches quite impressed me. I went into a few of their famous dugouts… one was 30 steps down & then there was another flight leading to a room beneath the first one. I could not stand the abominable stench that came from them.
“It was an interesting experience, but I am not keen on going there again for there are blooming awful sights horrid in the extreme.”
General Haig ended the British offensive on 18 November 1916. The allies had advanced a total of just five miles. The war remained at a stalemate.