The Somme – which tells the compelling story about the most infamous battle in military history – is coming up on Saturday the 6th at 10pm on Discovery History. If you can't wait that long, here are some sobering Somme facts...
FACT 1: 95,675 of British Empire troops were reported killed or missing during the battle, compared to 50,756 French and 164,055 German men.
FACT 2: After just one day of fighting, 20% of the entire British fighting force had been killed. To put this percentage in perspective that meant: 19,240 were killed, 35,493 were wounded and 2,152 missing in action.
FACT 3: On the same day, almost an entire generation of Newfoundlanders were wiped out. Only 68 of the 801 men from the 1st Newfoundland Regiment (a reserve unit of the Canadian Army) who marched into battle on the first day of The Battle of the Somme survived unharmed. 500 of the 801 paid with their lives.
FACT 4: New Zealand suffered 8,000 casualties in six weeks in France – nearly 1% of their nation’s population. In comparison, Australia faced 23,000 casualties and mourned 6,741 deaths – higher figures than eight months of fighting during the Battle of Gallipoli.
Adolf Hitler fought in the battle in the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division and was even wounded – he took a bullet to the leg on 7 October 1916.
FACT 6: Notable deaths at The Somme included: Augustin Cochin (a French historian of the French Revolution), Raymond Asquith (son of the then Prime Minister), George Butterworth (English composer best-known for The Banks of Green Willow) and Donald Simpson Bell (professional footballer). Famous survivors of the battle were British writers JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.
FACT 7: The achievements of the Battle of the Somme were heavily overshadowed by the loss of human life – the British and French captured little more than seven miles (11km), with the British Forces only securing two miles, despite losing 420,000 troops in the process.
FACT 8: The Royal Flying Corps lost 782 aircraft and 576 pilots during the battle.
FACT 9: The first American fatality in World War I was American-born British Royal Artillery member Harry Butters. The Californian was killed by a German shell while securing the town of Guillemont in France.
FACT 10: In total, there were over one million casualties during the long battle on the Somme, which lasted over four months (1 July to 14 November, 1916).
Find out more about the Armed Forces at The Royal British Legion