Book Review: Somme 1916

12258As Somme100 approaches a number of books about the Battle of the Somme have started to appear. Many of these offer little new or enlightening but Paul Kendall’s new Somme 1916 (Frontline Books 2016, ISBN 978 1 84832 905 8, 442pp, maps/illustrations, hardback, £30.00) is a really excellent addition to our knowledge about the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, and indeed the Great War.

The book looks at the entire Somme front on 1st July 1916, the day the battle began, and what became the Blackest Day in British Military History with more than 57,000 casualties. It begins with the background to the Somme offensive and then looks at the different sectors from North to South, starting at Gommecourt and ending with Montauban.

Each chapter describes the fighting in that area in detail, and it is clear the author’s research (as with his previous books) is really first rate as he has used a wide range of sources from War Diaries to German accounts. The area I know particularly well is Beaumont-Hamel; the chapter on that sector is one of the best I have read in a very long time. With good maps and some supporting images this is a superb book and essential for anyone studying the First Day of the Somme in this centenary year.

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