Battle of the Somme, a map of the situation in December 1916


Published in December 1916, this map of the Somme region marks the Allied advances there during the previous five months. 

Overprinted blue lines give the successive front lines on the eve of the initial attack on 1 July, followed by 17 July, 13 September and 30 November. 

Red indicates the complex German trench systems facing the attack. These are especially prevalent to the north of the front line, where the British attack was the least successful. 

This map is unusual amongst military maps in that it was intended for public sale. Its production may well have been intended to emphasise the territorial gains (six miles in total) made during the offensive, and to justify the considerable human cost – over 400,000 British and dominion casualties – during what had become a controversial and highly criticised military operation.

Full title:
Map of the Somme area. Dec.1916.
December, 1916
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Maps C.14.f.21.

Related articles

Fighting the First World War: Stalemate and attrition

Article by:
Jonathan Boff
The war machine, Historical debates, Origins, outbreak and conclusions

For much of the First World War, the Western Front remained almost static, with each side killing many of the other’s men but otherwise making little progress. Dr Jonathan Boff investigates why the war developed in this way and whether later depictions of wartime strategy were fair.

Combat and the soldier's experience in the First World War

Article by:
Vanda Wilcox
Life as a soldier, Race, empire and colonial troops

In a war that saw new weaponry technology and great numbers of casualties, Assistant Professor Vanda Wilcox considers the common experiences of soldiers in active combat.

Related collection items