Shorter, but more intense than the battle at Verdun, which was taking place at the same time, the Battle of the Somme was fought by a combined army of Allied forces, who were attempting to break the German line. The Allies gained a total of six miles of ground during the fighting, but they stopped short of their goals. One of Great Britain's most famous figures, Winston Churchill, was said to have criticized the way the battle was being fought in 1916. Even today, historians are not in agreement about the success of the battle, the effectiveness of the tactics or the necessity for such a great loss of life: The fighting resulted in well over 1 million casualties in all.
The battlefield, which saw fighting in the summer and autumn of 1916, has been the site of important centenary events this year. Visitors, including many whose ancestors fought in the battle, have chosen to come here to pay their respects during the anniversary. Because the British army played the biggest role for the Allied forces during this battle, a lot of information is available in English for visitors who want to see the Somme and the various cemeteries and monuments in the area. The Remembrance Trail leads visitors past some of the most important sites.
Tourism is well developed in this part of France, and there are even options for taking sightseeing flights over the battlefields. Like other sites along the Western Front, this one has memorials, including the recognizable arch of the Thiepval Memorial.