The Somme is a river in Picardy, northern France. The name Somme comes from a Celtic word meaning “tranquility”. The department Somme was named after this river. The river is 245 km (152 mi) long, from its source in the high ground of the former Forest of Arrouaise at Fonsommes near Saint-Quentin, to the Bay of the Somme, in the English Channel.
The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on either side of the River Somme in France. The battle was one of the largest of World War I, in which more than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed, making it one of humanity's bloodiest battles. A Franco-British commitment to an offensive on the Somme had been made during Allied discussions at Chantilly, Oise in December 1915. The Allies agreed upon a strategy of combined offensives against the Central Powers in 1916, by the French, Russian, British and Italian armies, with the Somme offensive as the Franco-British contribution. The main part of the offensive was to be made by the French Army, supported on the northern flank by the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).
Matthew Crawley partook in the Battle of the Somme. Thomas Barrow was there as a medic, but intentionally draws fire to get shot in the hand so that he can be sent home.