During the dreadful Battle at Verdun, the French command urged the British to ease the pressure and launch their planned offensive on the Somme. The battle started on July 1st 1916, and in September the British used tanks for the first time. By November, the battlefields were turned into a quagmire, and the offensive was called off. The Allies had advanced six miles, at a cost of 420,000 British and Dominion casualties, and over 200,000 Frenchmen. Throughout the dreadful winter and the spring of '17, relentless fighting continued, exacting a heavy toll of lives. Some of the battle names have come down in history: Vimy Ridge, Arras, Messines, and Menin Road. The summer of 1917 was the wettest for years, and on the 31st July the third battle of Ypres started. Fought in a man-made swamp, there were, altogether some quarter of a million casualities. By now all the participating forces were locked in deadly combat on land, sea and in the air.
©2002 Max Arthur and the Imperial War Museum (P)2003 Random House Audiobooks