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Somme Facts

The scale and magnitude of the Battle of the Somme is almost unparalleled in modern history. Below are some facts and other statistics about the Battle, and its context within the Great War 1914-18.

  • The Allies suffered over 600,000 casualties during the 141 days of the Battle of the Somme.

  • The 1 July 1916 remains the bloodiest day in British Military History. On that day, the British Army suffered almost 60,000 casualties.

  • The Battle of the Somme was the first major offensive to involve the new ‘Volunteer Army’. This included those recruited into the 36th (Ulster) Division and the 16th (Irish) Division.

  • Tanks were first used at the Battle of the Somme. They went into action alongside troops from New Zealand in September 1916.

  • Soldiers from 9 different Countries fought in the British Army during the battle of the Somme – United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Newfoundland, Bermuda and Rhodesia.

  • Orangemen also served in the 16th (Irish) Division which went into action in the Somme sector in September 1916.

  • 1,738,000 shells were fired by the Allies at German positions before the Battle of the Somme began. A high proportion of these did not explode!

  • The 36th (Ulster) Division captured 5 lines of German trenches on the very first day of the attack.

  • Nine members of the 36th (Ulster) Division were awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War. One of these was Robert Quigg, an Orangeman from Bushmills, who demonstrated unparalleled gallantry at the start of the Battle of the Somme.

  • 37 sets of British Brothers lost their lives on the first day of the battle. This included James, John and Samuel Donaldson who were serving with the 36th (Ulster) Division and were members of Comber Old Standard LOL No. 567.

  • A silent movie made about the Battle became one of the first cinema blockbusters. An estimated 20 million people went to the cinema to see The Battle of the Somme.

  • Soldiers were ordered to walk into Battle on day one of the Somme. This made them easy targets for the waiting German machine gunners.

  • British Soldiers carried almost 66LBS of equipment into battle. This prevented them from moving quickly.

  • Raymond Asquith, son of the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, was killed during the Battle.

  • A Bavarian Corporal called Adolf Hitler was wounded by shell fire during the Battle.


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