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Battle of the Somme

Commemorating more than 100 years of the battle

The enduring images from the Battle of the Somme are of soldiers climbing out of the trenches to face the onslaught of machine gun fire and barbed wire in No Man's Land. Yet the battle, which waged over 141 days in 1916, was a pivotal moment for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the predecessor to the Royal Air Force.

The airmen of the RFC, tasked with reconnaissance of German lines, the direction of artillery fire, the bombing of German assets both on and behind the front line, and the rapid relay of information from the battlefield to headquarters, took on these missions with simple aircraft and at great risk.

The skills the RFC airmen developed and advanced over the battlefields of the Somme by the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 are the cornerstone of today's RAF activities. Learn more about the RFC's involvement in the Battle of the Somme.