When 19,000 British troops died in a single day

One hundred years ago today began the 141-day Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in human history, with about 1.5 million casualties. A staggering 19,240 British troops died on the first day of the Allied assault on German lines.

The scourge of war is as old as human history, but there is something new in the scale of the carnage of World War I. With the advance of military technology and industrial management methods, human beings became just another resource. It became obvious that technology was mastering man, not man technology. From the Battle of the Somme, there is a direct line to Auschwitz and Hiroshima – although in the Somme the generals were killing their own men, not the enemy.