These Englishmen Who Died for France : 1st July 1916: The Bloodiest Day in British History

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Description

On July 1st, 1916, it was in the Bay of Somme that the British lost the greatest number of soldiers in all of their history: why did they go there and what happened there?

Englishmen, Scotsmen, Irishmen, Welshmen, Canadians, South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders - many soldiers from Great Britain and the Commonwealth volunteered in 1916 to attack on the front in Picardy, a much heavier involvement than in the previous years of the First World War. On 1st July 1916, more than 20,000 of them lost their lives on the battlefield of the Somme, coming to the aid of a French army exhausted by Verdun.

It is the deadliest day in British history and the recognition of this sacrifice was then - and has remained since - relatively muted in France, as this grim anniversary is celebrated across the Channel, illustrating how much national collective memories differ. Comparing French and English archives to try to understand why and how so many men died, Jean-Michel Steg gives this episode its central place in the memory of the Great War.