On July 1st 1916, near the upper reaches of the Somme river in northern France, an earth-shattering artillery barrage ceased. Long lines of Allied soldiers scrambled over trench walls and started walking towards the German lines.

They were tragically unaware that most of the German troops had survived the shellfire. Months of bloody mayhem ensued and by November 1916 more than a million soldiers from both sides were dead or wounded.

Britain has never experienced slaughter on this scale before or since and debate still rages over whether the colossal human sacrifice was worthwhile. The battle continues to capture the public imagination and large numbers of new books are being published for the centenary. Here is IBTimes UK's pick of the best of them.