The war on the Western Front was characterised
by particularly bloody and brutal stalemates in 1916. Between February
and December, French forces repelled an intense and sustained German
attack on the fortress of Verdun,
an important staging post for invading armies on the road to Paris.
Anglo-French forces launched a massive offensive of their own against
German lines around the River
Somme in July.
Neither attack achieved its objective. German troops failed to take
Verdun, just as Anglo-French forces made only small gains in the
Somme offensive. In both cases, the loss of life was horrific: over
300,000 men on the Somme by November, and in the region of 370,000
Allied and 350,000 German soldiers at Verdun. By the end of the
Somme campaign, more than a million men had been killed: around
420,000 British and Dominion soldiers, over 200,000 French, and
probably around 450,000 German.