2016 is a time for sombre reflection as we mark the 100th anniversary of the midpoint of the First World War, the bloodiest year of the conflict. 1916 would witness slaughter on an industrial scale and unimaginable human suffering as the Allies and the Central Powers sought an end to the stalemate of attritional trench warfare. We look back to that fateful year remembering the pivotal battles, life on the frontline, individual acts of bravery, the formidable leap in firepower and the cultural impact of a type of warfare never before seen. This year The Royal Mint continues the story of the First World War in coins with this set of six coins recalling ‘bloodshed and the horrors of total war’.
The events of 1916 would prove decisive to the outcome of the war. This epic conflict across land, sea and air would exact a terrible human cost and cast a long shadow over tight-knit communities far from the frontline. At Jutland, off the Danish coast, the British and German fleets clashed, pitting their mighty dreadnoughts head-to-head in a battle for naval supremacy and control of the North Sea. At the Somme, Allied forces conceived an offensive to break through German lines and mobilise a war effort stalled in the mud of northern France. The carnage of that terrible first day as British forces advanced into a storm of artillery and machine gun fire has lingered long in the national psyche. Tactics would be reworked and new technology deployed as Allied High Command finally began to come to terms with fighting battles on this scale.