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Battle of the Somme

  • Members of 12 Squadron at an airfield
    Eyes in the sky

    Reconnaissance – the ability to gather information on enemy forces – was catapulted into the modern era during the First World War with advances in aviation and photography.

  • DH.2 aircraft
    A Victoria Cross on the first day of battle at the Somme

    Having paid for his own flying lessons just three years before the Battle of the Somme, Welshman Lionel Rees had no idea what lay ahead of him on the first day of the battle.

  • 25 Squadron FE.2b
    The danger of flight

    Serving as aircrew in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was one of the most dangerous roles in the First World War. Aviation was still a very new science, training was minimal, safety systems were basic to non-existent, and the aircraft themselves incredibly basic and fragile.

  • DH2s of 29 Squadron
    The battle waged from above

    In the week before the land battle began of the Battle of the Somme, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) had been tasked with maintaining air superiority, gathering reconnaissance, and directing the British artillery bombardment of the German front line. 

  • An FE.2b two-seat fighter
    Before the attack

    The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 2016, as thousands of British troops climbed out of their trenches and into the barbed wire and machine gun fire of No Man's Land. But for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the predecessor of the Royal Air Force, the battle had begun a week before.

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