This is the story of the first day of the Somme Offensive, 1 July 1916 - the single bloodiest day in British military history. 57,000 British soldiers became casualties, most within a few hours of the initial attack. The offensive was part of a doomed attempt to break the deadlock of trench warfare. But behind the myths lies the story of an elaborately-planned battle, fought against a determined and experienced German enemy, and a struggle that was seen at the time as both unavoidable and necessary. The Battle of the Somme, of which 1st July was just the first, disastrous day, raged for another four months, and was vital not only in diverting German forces away from their assault on the French at Verdun, but in teaching Britain's 'citizen army' how to fight a modern war against the German army.