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Why is the battle of the Somme regarded as such a great military tragedy?

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Introduction

Haig Coursework Q1. Why is the battle of the Somme regarded as such a great military tragedy? The Battle of the Somme was an attack launched in order to relieve pressure from the French army at Verdun; it was a way of diverting the Germans. The Somme valley was chosen as its river marked the junction of the British and French armies on the Western Front. The Battle of the Somme has gone down as the biggest disaster in British history. There is no doubt about this in a historians mind that this battle was a tragedy because this it saw the death of 57,000 British soldiers in the first day of the Battle after the heavy bombardment on July 1st 1916. The main aim of the Battle of the Somme was to commence a five day bombardment, obliterating the German trenches, killing all the soldiers, cutting the barbed wire defences and destroying the fortified villages along with the German machinery. ...read more.

Middle

The bombardment was a failure because the British troops did not realise that German troops had sheltered themselves in deep dugouts, which allowed most of them to survive the bombing launched. Although when the bombardment ceased this was a clear indication for the surviving German troops that an attack was about to commence signifying when they should emerge. The explosions of several huge mines under the German front line did not prevent their machine guns (which had not been destroyed by the shelling) to kill waves of the advancing British infantry. Once the German troops did emerge from their dugouts, too few guns and too big an area to shell led to the preliminary bombardment being largely ineffective. When British troops began advancing they walked forward as if they were on an exercise. This made it also easier for surviving Germans to shoot each row of soldiers down leading again to large numbers of deaths for the British Army. ...read more.

Conclusion

Haig's critics did have a lot of ammunition with which to ruin his reputation from this war, as he did a lose a lot of men for only 7 miles of land gained. For the amount of land gained the losses was far too great I think. Haig would say and most historians would agree that this battle made the morale of the German troops grow very low, but I feel that it could not have done much for the esteem of the British troops who knew that Haig wanted to win this war by attrition. The main consequence of this disastrous battle was the great losses of men suffered by both sides. I think what made this such a military tragedy was that the factor of the weather was not considered when they went to battle they should have made allowances for it before hand, they really should have considered all factors which might affect the war. Shalini Rajcoomar 11 Elgar Page 1 ...read more.

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