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WW1 The Somme casualties comparison WW2


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i have been trying to determine the comparison of British casualties (not deaths) between the Somme offensive between 1/7/16 - 18/11/16 and the second world war for British soldiers.


I keep getting conflicting information, also tricky as in WW1  all the dominions (including Australia)were counted with the British casualties  but, not sure that Australia etc. were counted in Britain's casualties for WW2


 Also they tend to quote figures under casualties- but then when you look at the numbers, it says deaths, either military or civilian.


hoping someone can help 

thanks heaps

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I'll quote from Carlo d'Este 'Decision in Normandy about the casualties sustained by British (also Canadian and Polish) 21st Army Group for the 84 days of the Normandy campaign from 6th June to 29th August 1944. He himself quotes from the War diary of 21st Army Group, SITREP 29th August 1944 PRO WO171/140:


Killed 15,995     Wounded 57,996  Missing 9,054                          Total Casualties 83,045



Killed and missing    8,178

You could also add in pre D-Day operational losses  (Maybe 12,000) and American losses (about 25 - 40% higher than British losses).


As a rough order of magnitude calculation,the British had about 50% more casualties, but only 5-10% more deaths in the 84 days of the Normandy campaign, as it did on  the first few hours of the battle of the Somme. Whereas Normandy was one of the more violent periods of the North African/European  war for the British, (there were others - Alamein, Sicily, Italy and the invasion of Germany), it is worth remembering that until November 1942, over half way through the war, more British Civilians than British Soldiers had been killed.


The Great War was of a different order altogether.





Edited by Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
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Somme casualties for the BEF were 416,000 in 141 days.  About thirty per cent of these were fatal.  Amongst the casualties were Canadians ( including Newfoundlanders), Australians,  New Zealander’s , South Africans and a few Indians.....but more than eighty per cent were from the British Isles.


The total number of British ( UK) soldiers killed or wounded in battle throughout the Second World War, on all fronts, was about the same as the number of British Empire soldiers who  were hit in the Battle of the Somme.  The slaughter in the 1916 battle was stupefying.


 In addition to the killed and wounded, however, the  Second World War British casualties  included a very large number taken prisoner.  In the warfare in the Far East, 1941-45, many of these POWs perished.


Of the British casualties in the Battle of the Somme, only a few thousand were prisoners.


Editing here with something a bit more meticulous.  British Army, 1939-45


Killed/Died of wounds : 126,734.


Wounded : 239,575


POW : 203,192


Total : 569,501


  Source : The Sharp End of War, John Ellis


These are for the UK only.  I think that the number of wounded is understated, and that a portion of those posted as POW were also wounded.


Somme July to November 1916 : total casualties 415,690, of whom , according to Martin Middlebrook's research into CWGC registers, 127,751 died in the period 1 July to 20 November.  These include all the Empire contingents, although the British and Irish comprised approaching 85% of them.  Significantly, the Germans claimed only 4,291 British Empire prisoners in the entire battle.





Edited by phil andrade
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