These aerial photographs, from the Lloyd George papers, show the damage caused to German trenches by British artillery at the start of the Battle of the Somme. For a week from 24 June 1916, the British forces bombarded German lines in an attempt to destroy barbed wire, trenches and artillery. During this time, over 1.5 million shells were fired.
The goal was to damage the German lines so that British troops could cross no man’s land and enter their trenches. However, the bombardment was largely unsuccessful, which had a devastating effect on the number of British casualties on the first day of the battle.
These photographs were taken by the 3rd, 4th, 9th and 60th Squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps, the air arm of the British Army at the time, between 30 June and 2 July 1916. During the battle, Royal Flying Corps squadrons took more than 19,000 aerial photographs of the German trenches.