Books interview with Andrew Roberts: “I’d like to put an end to the ‘Blackadder’ view of the First World War”
Andrew Roberts talks to Matt Elton about his book on the first day of the battle of the Somme, the infamous 1916 operation that resulted in the deaths of thousands of men
Starting on 1 July 1916, the battle of the Somme was a joint operation by French and British empire forces near the river of the same name in France. Military leaders were confident of the success of their plan – an aerial barrage followed by infantry advance into German trenches – but the battle was to become one of the bloodiest in history: on the first day alone around 20,000 Allied soldiers died, with tens of thousands more injured. By battle’s end in November, the Allies had gained only five miles. Much of the blame for this has since been pinned on British commander Douglas Haig.