House of Lords Library

Battle of the Somme: 100 Years Anniversary

Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016

This House of Lords Library briefing provides an overview of the history of the battle of the Somme, which took place in the First World War, between 1 July 1916 and 18 November 1916, and was a joint Anglo-French operation in the region of the river of the Somme. It briefly describes the planning of the offensive, the events of the battle, and the role of Commonwealth troops in the conflict. It then provides an overview of the commemorative programme of events to mark the centenary of the battle, which are being organised by the UK Government. The briefing has been prepared to mark the centenary of the start of the battle, on 1 July 2016, and to support the question for short debate on marking the centenary of the battle of the Somme, scheduled to take place in the House of Lords on 14 March 2016.

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The battle of the Somme took place during the First World War, between 1 July 1916 and 18 November 1916. It was a joint Anglo-French offensive in the region of the river Somme, intended by the Allied forces to achieve a decisive victory over the German forces on the western front. However, after 141 days of battle, the British and French forces had advanced a maximum of 10 kilometres, and more than one million men from all sides had been killed, wounded, captured or were missing. After the first day of the battle, British and Commonwealth casualties numbered over 57,000. Matt Brosnan from the Imperial War Museums (IWM) argues that it is “the bloodiest day in British military history”.

On 1 July 2016, a joint Anglo-French commemoration will be taking place at the Thiepval Memorial in France to mark the centenary of the start of the battle of the Somme. In Britain, the organisation of the commemorative programme of events to mark the centenary is being led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, on behalf of the UK Government and the French Government, in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Royal British Legion. 

Lords In Focus LIF-2016-0021

Author: Sarah Tudor

Topic: Armed forces

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