British artillery bombard the German trenches prior to the attack, Beaumont Hamel, 1 July 1916
Photograph, World War One, Western Front (1914-1918), 1916.
At 7.30 am on 1 July 1916, 14 British divisions attacked on the Somme. In most cases they were unable to keep up with the artillery barrage that was supposed to take them through to the German trenches. This gave the Germans time to scramble out of their dugouts once the ineffective barrage had lifted, man their trenches and open fire.
At Beaumont Hamel and elsewhere along the line, General Sir Douglas Haig's infantry were welcomed by a storm of machine-gun, rifle and artillery fire and suffered nearly 60,000 casualties during the day. Although the French had made good progress in the south and there had been some local successes, in most places the attack was a bloody failure.
From a collection of 550 photographs compiled by Lord Henry Seymour Rawlinson while Commander in Chief in India, 1916-1919.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection