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Explain the Nature and Purpose of the Battle of the Somme 1916

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Explain the Nature and Purpose of the Somme Offensive in July 1916 When Field Marshall sir Douglas Haig was put in charge of the western front it was already clear that the Great War had become a war of attrition. Haig knew that if it carried on, many more men would have died. So he believed that if a break through was made it would stop men loosing their lives in the long run. But for this to happen men would have to loose their lives in the big push, which he chose the battle of the Somme for. But no one thought that there would be 60,000 causalities in the first few hours. Haig clearly favoured a war of movement rather than a war of attrition. A war of attrition meant that the armies were bogged down and the winner would be who ever could fight for the longest. Whenever one side made a breakthrough it was nullified by the other side making a breakthrough, it was basically a stalemate. Haig knew that if it carried on it would mean that a lot of soldiers' lives would be lost. ...read more.


Aeroplanes and tanks are only accessories to the men and the horse, and I feel sure that as time goes on you will find just as much use for the horse - the well-bred horse - as you have ever done in the past" this a quote form Haig who gave it in 1926 10 years after the battle of the Somme. This shows that he was thought that cavalry had a huge part to play in any battle. Another change was that infantry became more important. The foot soldiers were the backbone of the army. Before the war, the theory that an attack of a cavalry charge was to be followed to by the infantry, whose job it was to take charge of the captured position. They then had to defend the position from counter attacks. Trench warfare changed the role of infantry dramatically. The 'cavalry charge' was replaced by the 'infantry charge', which became the main tactic used I the war. Poison gas was another change that was first introduced in the Great War. Lethal gases such as 'mustard-gas' were used frequently, however very effective gas masks were developed and used. ...read more.


The plans of the Somme offensive were drawn out by Haig and his deputy, General Rawlinson. The main parts of the plan they drew out were that there would be a huge artillery bombardment, and mine would be detonated devastating German positions. Because of the huge artillery bombardment the German barbed wire would be cut and also their trenches and dugouts would be smashed. After the artillery bombardment the attacking British troops would be able to walk across no man's land rather than run. The troops as well as carrying all their own equipment had to carry trench repair equipment so that they could rebuild and defend the German trenches and so stopping the Germans re-taking their lost territory. Also Haig was adamant that cavalry should play their part in the battle so he had British cavalry forces kept in readiness to charge into the gaps in the German line. Overall the nature and purpose of the battle of the Somme was changed as time went on for certain different but as the time got nearer the battle the nature and purpose of the battle became clearer. The were lots of different purposes of the battle of the Somme but really all the purposes of every battle in world war one were to essentially help win the war. Ricky Dhaliwal - 1 - ...read more.

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