The Somme area in France saw large scale fighting in one of the most well-known and controversial battles in British military history; The Battle of the Somme. The German forces had established a network of deep dugouts and well connected communication trenches. From the initial bombardment in June 1916 to the end of fighting in November, the series of battles known collectively as ‘The Battle of the Somme’ saw thousands of casualties on all sides of the conflict. After this initial series of battles, there Somme sector remained relatively quiet until the German offensive of March 1918.
The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial of the Missing of the Somme, makes the scale of the losses at this battle apparent. The Memorial lists the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who have no known grave and were killed in action around the area of the Somme before March 1918. Of the names listed on this memorial, 90% of them died during the phases of the Battle of the Somme between July and November 1916. The adjoining cemetery contains 300 British and 300 French war dead. There are hundreds of other cemeteries and memorials in the Somme area and it remains a popular destination for those with an interest in the First World War.