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I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it both to serious scholars of WW1 aviation history but also to those just embarking on a study of this ever-fascinating topic and indeed anyone who wishes to be informed, enlightened and entertained.

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If you have had the good sense to read Bloody April and Aces Falling then you will know what to expect with a beautifully balanced package of first hand accounts and analysis meshed with a chronicle of the key events. In short, this is a gem of a book which brings to life those magnificent men in their flying machines whether they flew under roundel or Maltese cross. The Battle of the Somme has become synonymous with catastrophe and senseless slaughter, with the initial assault resulting in the heaviest loss of life ever suffered by the British Army in a single day.

Yet in the air, there existed an entirely different state of affairs. With the increasing importance of aerial reconnaissance and strategic bombing, the Royal Flying Corps in were charged with wresting air supremacy over the Somme in the wake of the Fokker scourge. Many of the great aces of the War were involved; Max Immelmann, Oswald Boelcke, Albert Ball and Manfred von Richthofen, and this book, assisted by innumerable first-hand accounts, charts the progress and ultimately the success of the British air offensive on a month by month basis, giving a rich insight into this most prestigious and pioneering form of warfare.

The First day of the Somme (1916)

It also follows the technological race to develop superior aircraft; the decisive factor in the strides made by the Royal Flying Corps and also the German counter-attack towards the end of the year, in which new machines and better tactics saw a steady reversal in British fortunes.

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What's this? Other formats available Price Somme Success ePub Description Reviews 6 High above the blood soaked trenches of the Somme during the Summer and Autumn of , the Royal Flying Corps were acting out - and winning - one of the first great aerial battles of history.

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WWI Historical Association This is a fascinating book, looking at the air war over the Western Front in a far more relevant way than is often the case. Pegasus Archive - Mark Hickman. Available in the following formats: Hardback ePub Kindle. Available in the following formats: ePub Hardback Kindle. Available in the following formats: ePub Paperback Kindle.

On February 21, the German barrage began and for the next ten months both sides threw soldiers and shells at each other in a nightmare of death. The German Army bled as well. As Verdun was a symbol of life for France, its fall became a moral necessity for the prestige of the German Army. By Christmas, when the battle finally ended, casualties for both sides totalled ,, of whom some quarter of a million were killed. During this holocaust of fighting, the French sent frantic appeals to Sir Douglas Haig, the new British commander, to hasten the Somme offensive and take the pressure off Verdun.

With French forces being so thoroughly decimated at Verdun, the British now had to assume a far greater burden of the attack, so what was planned as a French dominated offensive in terms of manpower became a British dominated one.


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  • The campaign was planned well in advance with a massive build-up of men and munitions. By the end of June all was ready for the "Big Push," and Haig was quietly confident that his planned assault would destroy the enemy lines and open the way for the cavalry to ride into open countryside and attack the German rear areas, battery positions, headquarters and communications.

    Meanwhile, the German Army, long forewarned of the attack, had engaged in a massive restructuring of their defences, most especially in the northern area of the British attack. They were firmly entrenched along the ridges and the villages of the northern Somme countryside.

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    On July 1, at 7. At the end of the day the French had gained nearly all of their objectives as had the British divisions to the south; but for two thirds of the British sector almost nothing at all had been gained. At Beaumont-Hamel, the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment, part of the 29th British Division, lost two-thirds of its entire strength in about an hour's exposure to German artillery and machine guns.

    July 1 in Newfoundland is still a day of commemoration and mourning.


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    • The Battle of the Somme was not a one day affair and the fighting continued, notably with a largely successful dawn attack by the British on July 14, through the summer months. In late August , the "Byng Boys" moved from the muddy fields of Flanders to the Somme, where they took over a section of the front line west of the village of Courcelette. They ran into heavy fighting and suffered some 2, casualties before the full-scale offensive even got underway. In the major offensive which began at dawn on September 15 the Canadian Corps, on the extreme left of the attack, assaulted on a 2, metre sector west of the village of Courcelette.

      Advancing behind a creeping barrage a tactic which had recently been introduced by the British, a consequence of adequately trained gunners, more and better guns and more reliable ammunition , the infantry was aided by the "new engine of war," the armoured tank.

      First day on the Somme - Wikipedia

      There were only a few of these and they were extremely unreliable and very vulnerable to artillery fire. However, at this early stage of the war their sheer presence often threw the enemy into confusion. The attack went well. Numerous German counter-attacks were successfully repulsed and by the next day the position was consolidated. The enemy then brought up reinforcements, the fighting intensified, and gains became microscopic. In the weeks that followed the three Canadian divisions again and again attacked a series of German entrenchments.

      The final Canadian objective was that "ditch of evil memory," Regina Trench.

      It repeatedly defied capture, and when the first three divisions were relieved in the middle of October, Regina Trench was closer, but still not taken. When the newly arrived 4th Division took its place in the line it faced an almost unbelievable ordeal of knee-deep mud and violent, tenacious, enemy resistance. However, despite the almost impenetrable curtain of fire, on November 11 the Division captured Regina Trench—to find it reduced to a mere depression in the chalk.

      A week later, in the final attack of the Somme, the Canadians advanced to Desire Trench—a remarkable feat of courage and endurance. The 4th Division then rejoined the Corps opposite Vimy Ridge.