Events of 1916

6-8 January 1916

The Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad is the first attempt to relieve the besieged British in Kut, Mesopotamia. The Turkish finally withdraw but the British casualties number 4,000, a situation exacerbated by the poor medical facilities.

24 January 1916

Introducing conscription, the British Government passes the Military Service Act, to become law on 2 March 191

21 February 1916

The Battle of Verdun starts with a German offensive against the Mort-Homme Ridge. The German plan is to starve the French of men and resources. The battle lasts 10 months and over a million men become casualties.

9 March 1916

Germany declares war on Portugal, followed, six days later, by Austria.

29 April 1916

Besieged garrison at Kut in Mesopotamia surrenders after 143 days and 3,000 British and 6,000 Indian troops go into captivity. The majority of these die of disease and starvation in prison camps.

31 May – 1 June 1916

The Battle of Jutland. The German High Seas Fleet (Hochseeflotte) is forced to retire despite inflicting heavier losses on the Royal Navy (14 ships and 6,100 men), but the German fleet remains irreparably damaged for the rest of the war.

4 June 1916

The Russian Brusilov Offensive begins on the Eastern Front.

5 June 1916

T E Lawrence aids Hussein, Grand Sharif of Mecca, in the Arab revolt against the Turks in Hejaz.
Lord Kitchener sails for Russia on board HMS Hampshire. The ship is mined off Orkney and Kitchener is lost along with 643 other crewmen and general staff.

1 July 1916

The Battle of the Somme sees 750,000 Allied soldiers unleashed along a 25 mile front. By the end of the day nearly 60,000 are dead, wounded or missing for very little gain. It is the worst single day’s fighting in British military history.

14-17 July 1916

The Battle of Bazentin Ridge marks the end of the first Somme Offensive. The British break the German line but fail to deploy the cavalry fast enough to take full advantage. Some 9,000 men are lost.

23 July 1916

The Battle of Pozières Ridge marks the second Somme Offensive. Close to the highest point of the Somme battlefield, Pozières dominates the surrounding countryside. The action to take the village costs 17,000 Allied casualties, the majority of whom are Australian.

26 August 1916

Under General Smuts, Britain enters the Morogoro Campaign in East Africa. The Germans lead a deadly guerrilla campaign, but disease kills 30 men for every one that dies in combat.

28 August 1916

Italy declares war on Germany

2 September 1916

The first Zeppelin is shot down over Britain.

9 September 1916

The Battle of Ginchy. The British capture Ginchy – a post of vital strategic importance, as it commands a view of the whole Somme battlefield.

15 September 1916

The Battle of Flers-Courcelette signifies the start of the third stage of the Somme Offensive. Armoured tanks are used for the first time. Despite initial gains the Allies fail to break through German lines.

26-28 September 1916

The Battle of Thiepval. Tanks play a crucial role in the capture of this strategic village.

13 November 1916

The Battle of Ancre. The fourth phase of the Somme Offensive is marked by the British capturing Beaumont Hamel and St Pierre Division, taking nearly 4,000 prisoners.

5-7 December 1916

David Lloyd George becomes British Prime Minister on the resignation of Asquith.

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