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Battle of the Somme
Silver Double Crown 

  • 999 Silver with gold accents
     

  • Limited Mintage available
     

  • Bradford Mint Exclusive
     

  • 105 year Anniversary

Battle of the Somme
Battle of the Somme
Battle of the Somme
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By the end of 1915, WWI had reached a stalemate for both the Allies and the Central Powers. The Allied High Command conceived a two-part plan to break the deadlock. With the French sustaining heavy losses at Verdun, east of Paris in February 1916, the strategy involved diverting attention away from this area by attacking the German forces at the Somme, over 150 km north of Paris. The British would attack on a 15 mile front north of the Somme with French divisions attacking an 8 mile front to the south. The second objective would be to inflict heavy losses on the German army to deplete their manpower and break their hold in the region. At the end of June, a weeklong artillery barrage signalled the start of the Allied offensive with 1.7 million shells being fired to soften the German defenses. Little was achieved as the Germans had created deep, bomb-proof bunkers around the Somme in which they could retreat.

 

Battle of the Somme - 1st July - 18th November, 1916

 

1st July - At 7.30am hostilities begin. The Allied offensive strategy proves inadequate: bombard, send in the infantry, follow with the cavalry. From their fortified positions, the German forces soon dispatch the British and French armies. On that first day, the losses were horrendous: 20,000 British, Canadian and Irish troops died, a further 40,000 were injured. As the weeks ensue, little ground is gained by either side. Trenches become a defensive tactic, with both sides using the below ground fortifications to launch attacks. With bayonets fixed to the rifles, men clamber “over the top” and into “No Man’s Land” to attack. As they do, they face waiting gunfire. The loses on both sides continue to mount.

Battle of Pozieres: 23rd July - 3rd September:

 

Three weeks after the battle begins Australian troops commence an attack around the town of Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in the British sector of the Somme battle area. An important German defensive position, the high ground affords a strong tactical advantage. The 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions fight magnificently to secure the area. In the 42 days battle, they endure 19 attacks. The cost was huge: 24,000 casualties and over 6,700 dead. War correspondent Charles Bean later says of Pozieres that it is “more densely sown with Australia sacrifice than any other place on earth.”

 

In October, heavy rain and mud sees the stalemate continue with the Allies under fire from German artillery and fighter planes. One final Allied attack is made on German positions in the Ancre Valley. With winter approaching and the first snowfall, Allied Commander Douglas Haig calls an end to the battle on 18th November. The Allies have penetrated only 12km into German-held territory. The Allied objectives of the Battle of Somme remain unfulfilled.

 

Aftermath:

 

Although deemed an Allied failure, the Battle of Somme did deplete German manpower. The German forces would never recover from their staggering losses, estimated to be 450,000 dead, and this would hasten an end to the war. The losses were equally devastating for the Allies - some 420,000 with nearly 109,000 deaths. Australia sustained 23,000 deaths and New Zealand, 1.500. In the months and years ahead, Somme would come to symbolise the true horrors of war and the futility of trench warfare.

 

The numbers remain the most chilling of World War I: Almost 900,000 combined casualties in a conflict that gained little for either side. What the Somme brought to war was terrifying new technology of tank warfare and showed the waste and carnage inherent in trench warfare. How many lives were lost from men going over the top and into oblivion? From these losses, the horrors of war was never clearer or more heartbreaking.

 

But it was here that the Anzac contingent showed its greatest courage in WWI and made its greatest sacrifice. During the Pozieres battle, our troops acquitted themselves with honour as they faced almost insurmountable odds to help secure the town. 6,700 men were lost during the campaign. New Zealand endured 23 days of ceaseless fighting at the Somme and yet through it all, the ANZAC spirit born a year earlier at Gallipoli sustained our troops.

 

Today we honour these brave diggers with a 105th anniversary commemorative capturing their heroism in the “Battle of the Somme Silver Five Crowns.” The stirring design depicts the mateship and courage that has come to define the Anzac legend. One digger takes a wounded mate to safety through the devastation of No Man‘s Land. A tank looms large and threatening, symbolically recalling its first use in warfare during this battle. Charles Bean’s poignant quote is reflected in the grave markers in the foreground. The major conflicts within the greater Battle of the Some are rendered in pure, layered 24-carat as a shining testament to the men whose courage and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

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