Tuesday, 26th April 2016 we started our trip to Albert. We had our first stop at a giant hole, the Lochnagar mine.
A tunnel was dug under the „Schwabenhöhe“ and was filled with explosives. Overthere many German soldiers stayed waiting for the attack of the British, but they were killed, when the ammonal explosives burst under them.
Today the hole has a diameter of 91 meters and a deepness of 21 meters .
Then we continued our route and looked at a golden statue of Madonna, at the top oft he Albert’s church.
The statue had an important meaning for the French , they said: “The war will be finished in the same year the Madonna is shot and falls down of the roof top.“
Afterwards we went to Fricourt and visited one of the many cemeteries, which are around the battlefield, where around 12 thousands German soldiers, who had fallen in the battle of the Somme, are buried.
After this we saw a very huge and impressive monument showing names of fallen soldiers.
At the end of our tour we visited a museum, the historical of the great world war, which shows some facts about the Battle of the Somme.
Almost 20,000 men were killed on the first day, the 1st of July 1916.
It started with the usual preliminary bombardment. Lasting five days and involving 1,350 guns and 52,000 tonnes of explosives fired onto the German lines.
The Battle of the Somme was designed to relieve the pressure on the French suffering at Verdun. Most soldiers had received only minimal training and many had still to grasp the skill of shooting accurately.
On Saturday 1 July 1916, the first of seventeen mines was detonated; a huge explosion on the German lines at Hawthorn Ridge . The advance started ten minutes later. The massive explosions certainly alerted the German defenders to what was about to come.
To the right of the British, a smaller French force, transferred from Verdun. As ordered, the men advanced in rigid lines. The bombardment combined with heavy rain had ensured that the ground was akin to a sea of mud.
What followed went down as the worse day in British military history and perhaps in the history of warfare – 57,000 men fell on that first day alone, 19,240 of them dead.
On 14 July, following a partially successful nighttime attack , the British sent horses in the cavalry. But the horses became bogged down in the mud, the Germans opened fire and few survived, either horse or man.
On 15 September, Haig introduced the modern equivalent of the cavalry onto the battlefield – the tank, which got originated in Britain. Despite advice to wait for more testing, Haig had insisted on their use at the Somme. He got his way and the introduction of 32 tanks met with mixed results – many broke down but a few managed to penetrate German lines. Haig was impressed and immediately ordered a thousand more.
Soldiers from every part of the Empire were thrown into the melee – Australian, Canadian, New Zealanders, Indian and South African all took their part.
The battle finally terminated on 18 November, after 140 days of fighting. 400,000 British and Commonwealth lives were lost, 200,000 French and 400,000 German.The Germans, having been pushed; however the Allies hadn’t got more than 10 kilometres of land.
By Simon, Severin, Charles and Moritz