La Somme–by Zackery Thompson


A trench at Beaumont-Hamel

On our tour of the area involved in the Battle of the Somme we learned a lot about the events leading to the Great War, the daily soldier’s experience, and the various armies that participated in the battles. The amount of blood shed, life lost, and fierce, violent combat was shocking to learn about outside of a classroom. Throughout school we learn about several key battles of the War, and we always read that they were bloody battles, but being at the actual battlefield, seeing trenches, and craters brings a whole new reality and appreciation for the nature of this War.

The position of the German lines and guns ensured that any allied troops coming across no man’s land were sure to become casualties, and that, coupled with artillery barrages made for hundreds of thousands of casualties. They bloody combat was not the only thing soldiers had to fear. Disease and illness was extremely common with all the filth in the trenches, and inadequate hygiene lead to many instances of infection such as trench foot. Beyond the terrible battle and living conditions, the thing that struck me most was that soldiers faced the danger of combat, the horror of trench life, and did their duty honorably.

Rebecca, Bob, Courtney, and Claire at the French side of the cemetery at Thiepval

Rebecca, Bob, Courtney, and Claire at the French side of the cemetery at Thiepval

I can’t imagine how difficult digging those trenches was, especially the combat trenches that zigged and zagged. That is not to say that digging the communication trenches was any easier, and add to the physical labor the fact that the enemy was shooting at you the whole time, it seems insane. It seemed unbelievable that the allied troops only moved a few meters at a time, taking almost two months to move their line forward ten or twenty meters The violence displayed at the Battles of the Somme is unfortunately not uncommon for the war. To explain this I think the tour guide said it best, that there was a spirit of vengeance present for allies and enemies alike. It is obvious that if two armies fight for revenge, and especially to get back or keep land that has been contested for decades, the fighting is going to be extremely intense, and soldiers tended to attack with prejudice.


Stefani Lind listens to our guide talking about the Battle of the Somme

It was interesting to learn that the French had only a small percent of the allied troops present, leaving the British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and colonial troops to fill the lines, troops that were fighting for an ally and not their own home land. Altogether it is unfortunate that the violence, the viciousness, the high loss of life, and gross amount of blood shed at the Somme was not uncommon during the war, and goes to show how countries like France and Germany lost an entire generation of youth.


  1. Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from.
    Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this page.