Dan Explains the first day of The Somme which remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British army; a symbol of the senseless carnage of the First World War. At 7:30 a.m. on July 1 1916, the British soldiers climbed out of their trenches and advanced towards the German lines. They were met with a bombardment of machine gun fire, artillery barrages, and a hail of bullets from the well-entrenched German troops. It was a bloodbath.
It wasn't supposed to happen like that- beforehand, the British had spent several days bombarding the German lines, believing they would destroy their enemy trenches and barbed wire defences, making the British advance straightforward and almost painless. They didn't know just how well-fortified the Germans were in their deep dugouts. When the bombardment stopped, the Germans manned their defences, waiting for the British to walk right into their line of fire.
In chilling detail, Dan retells the astonishing story of that fateful first day of The Somme- determining what really happened in the days leading up to it and what the men endured when they went 'over the top', using the diaries of the men who were there.
Produced by Mariana Des Forges and edited and sound designed by Dougal Patmore.