The Battle of the Somme started in 1916 following the battle at Ypres in 1915. The lines of trenches stretched over 966 km from the Belgium coast through France to the edge of Switzerland. The men were faced with the realities of dirt, disease and death. This was a battle that the French and British troops would never forget.
The advantage of trench warfare was on the side of the defense. Old-fashioned war tactics of heading straight into each other were used. They thought that all you needed to win was to overpower them by sending in more and more men. All this led to was an abundance of casualties. As the attacks went on, the Western front became strewn with decaying bodies and the remains of shells.
In 1916, the French and British forces decided to launch an allied attack on the German's along the Western, Eastern, and Italian fronts. The Somme was chosen for the Western front.
The allied plan of the French and British was changed when the German's decided to set their battlefield on the edge of Verdun. Verdun was a very important city to France and the French had to protect it. The great battle of Verdun started on the twenty first of February and lasted for the next seven months. By the end of the battle, which was near Christmas, over 800,000 men had given their lives.
Whilst the battle of Verdun was going on, France sent messages to Sir Douglas Haig, the new British commander, to intensify the Somme offensive to release some of the pressure from Verdun. The British now had full responsibility of the Somme because the French were off protecting Verdun, the symbol of life for France. .
The British planned this battle well in advance. They built up great amounts of men and machine. There were no new tactics introduced. Just the same old tradition of sending in more men. As they neared the end of June, they were ready for the first movement called "The Big Push.