‘I just thought this photo of our horses in a Poppy field on Gressenhall Farm might be nice to commemorate the Centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st, when the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties and, of course, many horses who were innocent victims of this horrific war.’
Assistant Farm Manager
Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse
PHOTO: MIKE CRISP
1 JULY 1916 – DAY ONE:
THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME
On 1 July, 1916, the battle of the Somme began, resulting in a serious defeat for the German army, forced out of its forward positions by the French 6th Army.
On that first day of the offensive on the Somme, few British troops reached the German positions, and it was to be the worst day in the British army’s history with over 57,000 casualties and 19,240 dead. It was to continue until November 1916, and epitomised the futility of trench warfare.
‘Going over the top’ was the first taste of battle for many young men, persuaded by Lord Kitchener’s ‘King and Country’ poster to show their patriotism.
The way the Battle of the Somme was fought was strongly criticised by many, due to the appalling casualties suffered by the British and French. By the end of the offensive in November 1916, the British army had suffered 420,000 casualties, the French 200,000 men and the Germans almost 500,000.