When we look back to the Great War, now known as the First World War, we think of the senseless slaughter of young men on both sides numbering not in the tens of thousands, but in the millions. We think of endless trench warfare fought for the gain of a few metres of land. We think of the panic that must have gripped these soldiers as they waited to go "over the top" -- leaving the illusory safety of their trenches for the reality of the killing fields. We think of the mud, the barbed wire, the torn bodies, the screams…

We think of the Battle of the Somme.

Canada; An Illustrated Weekly Journal, 21 October 1916. ©Chinook Multimedia Inc.

Over the Top: Canadians Charging on the Somme, France, October 1916.

The Battle of the Somme typifies the tragic futility of trench warfare. For a stretch of a few square kilometres, Canadian troops lost over 8,000 dead and 16,000 wounded soldiers. The British and French suffered combined losses that numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

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The Somme (opens in new window)

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