In 1916 the British Army fought a battle on the Somme in Northern France that still lingers darkly in the nation’s memory. General Haig hoped to rupture German lines and break the deadlock of trench warfare, ‘battle-hardening’ his troops in the process. On 1 July British soldiers attacked. The shelling of German positions proved ineffective and many were met by a deadly storm of enemy fire. Despite heavy losses, the attack continued for four months. The Battle of the Somme cast a long shadow on those communities who lost so many of their men.
In 2016 The Royal Mint continues its five year programme of commemoration, which tells the story of the First World War in coins, with this silver £5 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the battle. John Bergdahl’s design is inspired by the technology that helped to change the nature of the conflict, and portrays the debut of a new piece of military hardware – the tank. Struck to Proof standard and presented in a black case, this is a poignant tribute to a tragic turning point in the First World War.