Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Battle of the Somme - as it happened
  2. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed on the opening day of the battle
  3. 2,069 men from the 36th Ulster Division were killed at the Somme on 1 July 1916
  4. All times are +1 hour BST
  5. Picture: Attack on Thiepval, Getty Images

Live Reporting

By Eunan McConville and Lee Costello

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Death toll

An accurate death toll over the course of the Battle of the Somme is an impossibility. But it is thought that as many as a million men were killed in those 20 weeks.

Battle aftermath
Getty Images

Hindenburg line

In early 1917, the Germans fell back to the safety of the Hindenburg line - negating all the gains for which the Allies had paid such a high price.

Hindenburg line
Getty Images
The Hindenburg line

What was learned from the Somme?

The Battle of the Somme saw British improvements in trench warfare. The creeping barrage was improved; tanks were used for the first time; intelligence got better.

Battle aftermath
Getty Images

A battle that lasted 141 days

The Battle of the Somme would continue for almost five months. The British lines moved forward by about 4.5 miles (7km). 

Soldiers cross the Ancre
Getty Images

The bloodiest day

As dusk descends on the Somme, it becomes apparent that the British army has suffered its bloodiest day. In all, the first day saw 57,470 British casualties - 19,240 dead. In comparison the German army had around 6,000 casualties.

Battle aftermath
Getty Images

Counting the Ulstermen's dead

The 36th Ulster Division finishes the first day of the Battle of the Somme right back where they started. But with more than 5,000 casualties - around 2,069 of them lying dead.

Battle aftermath
Getty Images

Horrific casualty rate

The battle rages on into the evening. The first day is yet not over but the casualties count is rising at an alarming rate.

Dead soldier in a trench
Getty images

Back to British lines

On the way back towards the British front lines, they meet the reinforcements they were hoping for about seven hours earlier.

Trench
Getty Images

Ulstermen retreat

The Germans are exhausted and the 36th manages its retreat in an orderly fashion.

Soldiers moving to a trench
Getty Images

Ulstermen forced back to German front line trench

The Ulster men fall back to the initial German front line. They brace themselves for an onslaught.

Soldier sin a trench
Getty Images

Giving up the Schawben

The order is given to relinquish the Schawben Redoubt.

German soldiers
Getty Images

The defence of the Schawben Redoubt is becoming desperate

Fewer men and fewer bullets means the Ulster Division's defence is becoming increasingly desperate. The Germans just keep coming.

Germans attacking
Getty Images

Ulstermen being attacked on three sides

Another determined German counter-attack. It's coming from three sides.

German counter attack
Getty Images

The Ulster Division are managing to hold the Schwaben

So far, the Germans haven't succeeded in breaking through the Ulstermen. But it's only a matter of time.

German soldiers
Getty Images

No reinforcements

With scant possibility of reinforcements any time soon, the 36th Division have to attempt to hold on until dark.

Shell burst and soldiers advancing
Getty Images

The Ulster Division faces a German backlash

The German counter-attacks just keep coming.

German attack
Getty Images

German attack on Ulster Division is fierce

The counter attack from the Germans is fierce coming from the direction of the village of Grandcourt.

German advance
Getty Images

The Ulstermen are on their own

Communication with the Ulstermen through No Man's Land is nigh on impossible.

The Ulster Division has nowhere to go

The men from the 36th who are at Schwaben are effectively cut off from their nearest comrades. No-Man's Land isn't an option for the Ulster Division at the minute - the German machine gun fire from Thiepval is almost constant.

Battle scene
Getty Images

The counter attacks begin

The Germans want the Schwaben Redoubt back and start their counter attacks to take it.

German counter attack
Getty Images

Supplies running low

Water and ammunition are in short supply for the Ulstermen.

The battle isn't going well overall

To The Ulsters' right and left, the other divisions are still struggling.

Battle damaged gun
Getty Images

Ulster casualty numbers continue to rise

The Ulster Division is in serious trouble. The constant fire from the Germans is causing casualties to rack up.

Casualties
Getty Images

Number of shells dropped on German lines during bombardment

Battle of the Somme
BBC

The 'hell' of Schwaben

By early afternoon, the remaining Ulstermen at the Schwaben Redoubt are getting hammered by artillery and facing machine gun fire on three sides. 

Soldiers in trench
Getty Images

A fatality flawed decision

The man in charge of the Ulster Division's sector is Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Morland. Major General Edward Perceval  - who commands the 12,000 strong reserve division - goes to see Morland. Perceval suggests committing the reserves to support the Ulstermen at Schwaben. Morland says no, stick to the original plan. Morland's decision will have disastrous consequences for the 36th Ulster Division.

Soldier in a trench
Getty Images

Forced back

But the Ulsters have caught up with their own artillery - British shells are raining down on them. They're taking fire from German machine guns, riflemen and artillery as well. One soldier described this point of the first day as "hell". The Ulstermen have to turn back.

Soldiers in a trench
Getty Images

Ulster 36th: As far forward as any British unit on 1 July

Some of the Ulstermen get as far as the second German line, but can't get through the barbed wire. Nowhere else, along the entire line, do any British soldiers make it as far as the Germans' second line of defence.

Soldiers in trench
Getty Images

Ulster Division advances forward

A number of Ulster Division soldiers advance over the open ground towards the second German line.

British advance
PA

Some good news from further along the line

Good news from the south. The French have managed to take a most of their objectives, while suffering very few casualties.

French advance
Getty Images

More than 2,000 killed on 1 July 1916

Battle of the Somme
BBC

The Royal Dublin Fusiliers attack the German lines

The Royal Dublin Fusiliers are out of their trenches and into battle north of the 36th Division, near the village of Beaumont Hamel. Most of them are cut down by German machine guns.

Soldier in trench
Getty Images

Almost 20,000 British soldiers died on 1 July 1916

Battle of the somme
BBC

British causalities continue to increase

The British Army has already suffered about 50,000 casualties.

Soldier on a strecther
Getty Images

BBC Voices 16

Day by day throughout 2016, BBC Northern Ireland will be telling the story of a tumultuous year in the history of Ireland through the eyes of the people who lived it. These personal accounts will unfold over the coming months on these pages and on @BBCVoices16.  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e2d5v2

Battle of the Somme
BBC

Your Somme

Ever wondered what life would have been like for you 100 years ago? Based on your gender & location, we can draw up the most likely scenario which would have faced YOU in World War One.  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/taster/projects/your-somme 

Battle of the Somme
BBC

Putting training into practice

Instead, the Ulsters get busy moving towards the German second line. This is something they've trained for. But their numbers are low.

Battle of the Somme
Family Photographs / North Down Museum
The Ulster Division practiced trench warfare before being sent to the Somme

No attack at Thiepval's rear is launched

A patrol from the Ulster Division finds an empty trench running towards Thiepval. But there are no higher ranking officers at Schwaben., so no order to attack the village's rear is given.

Trench attack
Getty Images

British divisions struggle

While The 36th Ulster Division has made superb progress, other British divisions in the Thiepval sector are struggling.

Abandoned gun
Getty Images

Hundreds of Germans are taken prisoner

About 500 Germans have been taken prisoner.

Battle of the Somm
Getty Images