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In Military Terms was anything achieved by the British at the Battle of the Somme?

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Introduction

In Military Terms was anything achieved by the British at the Battle of the Somme? The Somme is sometimes thought of as a failure. It is not entirely fair to say that this is wholly true, as the Somme was, in certain ways, very useful to the British. General Douglas Haig wished for the Somme to punch through the German defences and then use cavalry to advance on Bapaume and ultimately win the war. This seems like rather an over optimistic plan, but not strictly impossible. Haig decided that to prepare the battle, a preliminary bombardment would be unleashed on the German trenches, believing that the German defences would be entirely obliterated and that after the bombardment had finished, the British would simply have to walk across no-mans land into the abandoned German trenches. ...read more.

Middle

At 7.30am the other two detonated on time, and the British Army's 750,000 men left the trench spanning 14 miles and began to walk across no mans land, straight into a blizzard of German machine gun fire. Some Divisions managed to complete their preliminary objectives regardless of the fierce German fire, for instance the 36th Ulster Division managed to capture a trench, but most of the other troops failed and resorted to small attacks on certain areas of the line. Some cavalry charges were attempted, but they were merely cut down by the German fire. By the end of the day, casualties were worked out at around 38,000 men, and about 19,000 men died - the single most casualties ever received in one day in British military history. ...read more.

Conclusion

In February 1917 the Germans retreated to their pre-prepared Hindenburg Line 18 miles back. The Hindenburg line was on high ground and was well fortified. The battle served quite an important purpose to the British, and that was training the somewhat rookie troops. By the end of the Somme, the survivors were well trained in attrition and trench warfare, making them more of a match for the better-trained Germans. The Somme also pressured the Germans to take up a defensive strategy on the Western Front. So, all in all, the Somme should definitely not be thought of as a failure on the British part, because despite losing a lot of men, the British did seem to come out on top. ...read more.

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