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Live Reporting

By Eunan McConville and Lee Costello

All times stated are UK

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  1. 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
  2. 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
    Image caption: The Hindenburg line
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Ulstermen retreat

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

    Soldiers moving to a trench
  10. 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
  11. Giving up the Schawben

    The order is given to relinquish the Schawben Redoubt.

    German soldiers
  12. 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
  13. Ulstermen being attacked on three sides

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

    German counter attack
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. The Ulster Division faces a German backlash

    The German counter-attacks just keep coming.

    German attack
  17. 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
  18. The Ulstermen are on their own

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

  19. 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
  20. The counter attacks begin

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

    German counter attack