The First Day on the Somme

The First Day on the Somme Review

After an immense but useless bombardment, at 7.30 am. On 1 July 1916 the British Army went over the top and attacked the German trenches. It was the first day of the battle of the Somme, and on that day the British suffered nearly 60,000 casualties, two for every yard of their front. With more than fifty times the daily losses at El Alamein and fifteen times the British casualties on D-day, 1 July 1916 was the blackest day in the history of the British Army. But, more than that, it was a watershed in the history of the First World War. The Army that attacked on that day was the volunteer Army that had answered Kitchener's call. It had gone into action confident of a decisive victory. But by sunset on the first day on the Somme, no one could any longer think of a war that might be won. After that it was a struggle that had simply to be endured.
Martin Middlebrook's research has covered not just official and regimental histories and tours of the battlefields, but interviews with hundreds of survivors, both British and German. As to the action itself, he conveys the overall strategic view and the terrifying reality of an new kind of war for front-line soldiers.

Title:The First Day on the Somme
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Sweetwilliam

    An alternative title for this book could have been, How to Raise an Army of Volunteers over a Two-Year Period and Then Destroy It in Ten Minutes. This is another disturbing story from that very distur...

  • Tony

    Simply brilliant. Martin Middlebrook explains the build-up, first day, and aftermath of the Battle of the Somme in a clear and accessible style, using numerous first hand accounts which put you right ...

  • 'Aussie Rick'

    This book was the catalyst for my enduring fascination for books covering the Western Front. I use to despair in trying to read books about the Great War, as they were mind numbing with the numbers of...

  • Mike

    A signed copy, I read this just before taking a battlefield tour of the Somme. The book was excellent preparation to walking the battlefield. Highly recommended, book and tour.WWI remains at the foref...

  • Jonny Ruddock

    This was, I think, the first "serious" book I read about the First World War, way back in 1991. And it's still, probably, the best I've ever read. Mr Middlebrook takes a "just the facts" approach to t...

  • Stan Pedzick

    Wow...Simply mind blowing at the level hubris and gall on the part of the British General staff, to murder so many of your own men solely to relieve the French, and then to snatch defeat from the jaws...

  • Michael Dolan

    I love Martin Middlebrooke's method of getting at the detail. In The First Day on the Somme he follows twelve individuals and their military careers before the battle as well as an overview of the day...

  • Anthony Ryan

    Based on hundreds of interviews with survivors, Martin Middlebrook's seminal work stands as a valuable oral history of one of the worst days of the First World War. A harrowing and fitting tribute to ...

  • Heikki

    The First Day on the Somme, Martin Middlebrook, 1971, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-139071-9The Great War of 1914-1918 included many battles that have become legendary, perhaps none more so than that of Ve...

  • Martin

    Martin Middlebrook's narrative and analysis of the worst day in British military history was published in 1972. Thus, it may be outdated by the past four decades of scholarship on the folly of the Fir...