Video message from The Director - First World War - battle of the Somme
More than 100 years ago the Gallipoli campaign ended, leaving 8,700 dead, but the worst was yet to come. Beginning on 1 July, the purpose of the Somme offensive was to bring an end to the deadlock of trench warfare, and to relieve pressure on the French at Verdun. The campaign was massive, and included troops from Britain, Australia, France, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Newfoundland.
Later in July the AIF joined the Somme campaign, beginning with the fighting at Pozières. Charles Bean, our official First World War correspondent at the front, was witness to Australia sustaining 23,000 casualties over the six weeks of intense fighting. This was in addition to the 5,500 Australian casualties sustained days earlier in less than 24 hours at Fromelles.
By the time winter hit four months later the British and French had suffered 485,000 casualties, yet the line had advanced just 12 kilometres; nowhere near its intended objective.