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

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Introduction

Why is the battle of the Somme regarded as such a great military tragedy? Battle of the Somme: 1st of July to 13 November 1916. Intended to be a decisive breakthrough, the battle of the Somme instead became a good example for useless and indiscriminate slaughter, with General Haig's tactics remaining controversial even today. The British planned to attack on a 15-mile front between Serre, north of the Ancre, and Curlu, north of the Somme. Five French divisions would attack an eight-mile front south of the Somme, between Curlu and Peronne. To ensure a rapid advance, allied artillery pounded German lines for a week before the attack, firing 1.6 million shells. British commanders were so confident they ordered their troops to walk slowly towards the German lines. Once they had been seized, cavalry units would pour through to pursue the fleeing Germans. This though, did not happen and instead of this great British victory was this. ...read more.

Middle

Firstly because of flaws in the plan: The British army was mainly made up of new recruits like pals battalions and Kitchener's army. This inexperience proved costly when the British were firing there bobs the men that manned the guns often missed or the bombs didn't explode. As well as having inexperienced soldiers in their army they chose bad land to launch an attack. The Germans had two years to fortify their trenches and get ready to defend, this proved invaluable when the British bombed them for a week using approximately 1.3 million bombs. The Germans also occupied the best defensive positions with high ground, small villages and woods. Lastly the British bombardment did not give the expected results. Shells didn't explode and the British had very few high explosive shells, Shells they did have didn't cut the barbed wire and some of them were even duds. If they did have enough bombs they didn't have good gunners, those that they did have were young, inexperienced and often missed their targets. ...read more.

Conclusion

The British furthest line of advance lay only seven miles forward of the first attack on the 1st of July. Great Britain suffered 420,000 killed and wounded/ The Germans suffered 620,000. Optimism disappeared after the battle of the Somme. Lastly Haig was remembered as a great general before the battle, and after the battle of the Somme his reputation was very badly tarnished. Even though many people accept that the Battle of the Somme was a great tragedy there were good outcomes as well. The British army was now a lot tougher and could better prepare for their next battle and loose fewer lives. Lastly the Somme didn't win the war but it ensured that Germany didn't. In conclusion I agree that the battle of the Somme was a great tragedy for the loss of lives was great, many good reputations were tarnished even though it wasn't necessarily their fault and lives were needlessly lossed, but there were a few good outcomes, one being that the main objective was done, the army was toughened up and the British army would never make that mistake again. ...read more.

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