The battle of the Somme(sometimes referred to as the Somme Offensive) was contested between British, French and German troops between July 1 1916 and November 18th 1916, and is to this day counted as one of the deadliest battles in human history with over a million men killed or wounded during the campaign.
In remembrance of the brave men who gave their lives on the battlefield a century ago, the Royal Mint is releasing the 100th Anniversary of The Battle of Somme £5 Silver Proof coin.
The coin was designed in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum and features two soldiers charging across the muddy fields, in the foreground. In the background is one of the more notable technological advancements of the First World War. The Mark I tank was the first operational tank in the world and was able to cross the trenches and traverse the uneven terrain of the western front.
The reverse legend is inscribed along the rim and reads : “1914 THE FIRST WORLD WAR 1918” and “SOMME”. John Bergdahl designed the reverse of the coin and had the following to say about his choice :
“My design is inspired by the technology that changed the nature of the war in 1916. Tanks added protection as well as firepower. Rolling across no man’s land, troops could advance behind them, a vital breakthrough. Getting the look right in low relief was a challenge, along with accuracy and detailing. This particular tank has a lot of rivets, but look closely and they’re all there.”
The coin has a smooth edge with edge lettering that reads : “DEAD MEN CAN ADVANCE NO FURTHER”. This is a quote from Major-General Sir Beauvoir De Lisle, the full quote reads :
It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valor, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further.
He was referring to the staggering losses suffered by the Newfoundland Regiment at the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, which was recently also commemorated by the Royal Canadian Mint as a part of their Battlefields of WWI series.
The obverse design features the refreshingly new Jody Clark effigy, often referred to as the fifth portrait, of HM Queen Elizabeth II along with the date of issue, 2016, and denomination of 5 Pounds.
The coin is a part of an ongoing five year coin program with which the Royal Mint aims to commemorate the major events of the First World War from the outbreak of hostilities all the way through to armistice. Anne Jessopp, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin said:
“The Royal Mint has marked occasions of national importance for over 1,000 years, and we have a long association with the military, having made medals for military campaigns since 1815.” she continues “The Battle of the Somme £5 coin marks a conflict that casts a long shadow on those communities who lost so many of their men, and is respectfully remembered in this centenary year.”
The Proof quality £5 coin is struck from 28.28gram(0.9oz) of sterling(.925 Fineness) silver. The coin measures 38.61mm(1.52inch) and has a special limited mintage of only 4000 coins total of which 1916 will be available in this packaging. The coin is issued in a black clamshell display case with black velvet lining along with a certificate of authenticity. The 100th Anniversary of The Battle of Somme 2016 UK £5 Silver Proof coin is available from the Royal Mint for £80.00 (US$107.33).