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Case study: The Battle of the Somme.

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Introduction

Case study: The Battle of the Somme The Plan The French were suffering massive losses at Verdun. The joint attack by Britain and France at the Somme was designed to relieve the pressure from the French at Verdun. General Haig, the leader of the British forces wanted to attack further north near Ypres in Belgium. Haig however folded to the French and decided he would attempt to break the German front line at the Somme 1st Day (July 1st) At 7:28 on July 1916 seventeen mines were detonated underneath the German front line. Minutes later, presuming that all the Germans would be dead by the seven day artillery bombardment that had occurred before the 1st July, the English walked into no-mans land. The remaining Germans manned the machine guns and shot down 60,000 men, (20,000 died). ...read more.

Middle

In the centre of the charge, men were supported by cavalry ranks. The opportunity for a big breakthrough was there when the High Wood was taken, however the British forces took a long time to rally. The Germans managed a counter-attack and regained the Woods. The Night Attack became another costly failed attempt to break the German lines. The Tank Attack In late August 1916 General Haig demanded that Churchill allow him to use the new vehicles named "Tanks" in battle, to try again to break the stalemate. Churchill was wary of this he did not really want to use the tanks until there were large numbers of them available. However forty-nine of them were shipped to France. On the morning of 15th September following a six day bombardment, eighteen of the tanks lined up along side troops and advance on the German front line. ...read more.

Conclusion

After the first day I think that Haig should have seen that the Somme was never going to get a huge breakthrough as he wanted and called it off. Haig used very repetitive and un-creative tactics, such as he kept trying to use cavalry. Even through it was obvious that the way forward was using artillery and infantry. Haig advisors were also to blame as they could see the problems with Haig ideas but were too scared to stand up to him. However in the defence of Haig he didn't originally want an attack at the Somme, also he told the French he wasn't ready and wasn't going to be ready until November. The French needed relieving at Verdun and so the assault was moved forward to July. At this time the troops were un-trained and un-skilled. The original aim of the Somme offensive was to relieve the French where they were being slaughtered. In a way the battle was a success as this was done. ...read more.

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