On 24 June 1916, at exactly 0900, 427 British and French heavy field guns and howitzers, and 1010 pieces of field artillery opened up on at a 23 km section of the German trench lines just north of the Somme River. (That’s one gun firing for every 16 meters of trench.) They would fire ceaselessly for next week, stopping only when the gun barrels overheated. Once they cooled off, they continued firing. They were tasked to destroy the German trenches and strongpoints, and cut the wire in no man’s land.
As it began, General Sir Henry Rawlinson commented, “Nothing could exist at the conclusion of the bombardment in the area covered by it“