The First Day on the Somme

The First Day on the Somme

by Martin Middlebrook


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The first day on the Somme was the blackest day of slaughter in the history of the British Army. At 7.30 a.m., 1st July 1916, a continuous line of British soldiers climbed out of their trenches and began to walk slowly towards the German lines. Many of them believed that the enemy positions had already been destroyed in the previous artillery bombardment. By the end of the day the British had suffered 60,000 casualties -- one for every eighteen inches of the front. Martin Middlebrook has drawn on official sources, local newspapers, autobiographies, novels and poems to write this book and, above all, on the recollections of hundreds of survivors who contribute to a brilliant, horrifying and intensely moving portrait of war on the front line.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780141981604
Publisher: Penguin UK
Publication date: 04/01/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 465,324
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Martin Middlebrook has written many other books that deal with important turning-points in the two world wars, including The First Day on the Somme, Kaiser's Battle, The Peenemünde Raid, The Somme Battlefields (with Mary Middlebrook) and The Nuremberg Raid 30-31st March 1944 (all republished and in print with Pen and Sword).

Martin Middlebrook is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and lives near Boston, Lincolnshire

Table of Contents

List of Maps vi

List of Plates vii

Abbreviations ix

The Men xi

Author's Preface to Replica Edition xiii

Introduction xv

1 The Men 1

2 The Western Front 29

3 The Somme and the Germans 53

4 The Plan 67

5 The Preparations 80

6 The Last Few Hours 107

7 Zero Hour 122

8 Review at 8.30 A.M. 146

9 The Morning 159

10 Review at Noon 193

11 The Afternoon 205

12 Review at Dusk 226

13 The Night 236

14 The Aftermath 244

15 The Cost 262

16 An Analysis 272

17 The Years that Followed 293

Appendix 1 Order of Battle of British Infantry Units 317

Appendix 2 Order of Battle of German Divisions Facing the British Attack 325

Appendix 3 Senior Officer Casualties 326

Appendix 4 Victoria Cross Winners of 1 July 1916 329

Appendix 5 Battalions Suffering More than 500 Casualties 330

Appendix 6 A Tour of the Somme Battlefield 332

Acknowledgements 342

Bibliography 356

Index 357

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The First Day on the Somme 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Whiskey3pa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Well written and full of first person accounts. The courage of the troops was remarkable and the mediocrity of the leadership sad.
Miro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very good book about the failure of the British Imperial generals to adapt to WWI trench warfare and the enormous loss of life that this entailed.
ksmyth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book at Munroe's in downtown Victoria B.C. a couple. Though on vacation, I was deathly ill at the time, and locked myself up in my room with this book for a couple of days. I found this a fascinating book, with many first hand observations of that first day, across the Somme front. Perhaps it was more most meaningful because the quality of the disaster was spread so uniformly across the all of the units participating. It is also significant knowing that the second day, and third day were a lot like the first, and so on for a period of months.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago