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The aims of the British army at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

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GCSE History Coursework - Assignment One 1) The aims of the British army at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 were to break through the German front line of trenches and capture enemy territory. To do this successfully they needed to break the stalemate of trench warfare by making a 'big push' or in other words bombard the Germans with shells before going 'over the top' to take over the opposition's trenches. They also wanted to shatter the Germans' morale so that they would not want to fight anymore and hopefully surrender. The British wanted to have a 'big push' so that they could distract the rest of the German army who were fighting the French at Verdun. The French weren't doing so well; they were under heavy bombardment and the Germans were getting closer, even though their motto was 'they shall not pass'. The French were doing so badly that they only had 16 divisions of soldiers left, out of 40 available; but only 5 attacked the Germans compared to 14 of the British. The British Generals thought that if they succeeded in a breakthrough they could then use their cavalry to overcome the German troops. ...read more.


In this paragraph I will prove that the soldiers were worthy of being described as lions:- Most of the soldiers who fought at the Battle of the Somme were from Lord Kitchener's appeal for troops (i.e. volunteers) and weren't very well trained. However, they always did what they were told, no matter how stupid the orders were and they put up with living in the horrible conditions of the trenches facing death every minute of the day. They did things the generals wouldn't do themselves without complaint and there were no mutinies in all four years of the war. 60,000 of their troops either died or were seriously injured on the first day of the Battle of the Somme but despite this the soldiers did not give up, they kept fighting bravely although it was obvious that as soon as they went 'over the top' they would probably die. When the British were fighting at Gallipoli in Turkey they needed more soldiers so they made an appeal and lots of people signed up; mostly in PALs. These troops were predominantly Australian; they didn't have to go to war because their country wasn't even in it. ...read more.


However, as I will explain next, some historians have praised Haig saying his actions were justified and worthwhile as he won the war in the end. Some historians have a different view. They think that Haig was the best man for the job at the time and that he was right to do what he did. They have praised him and concentrated on 1916 and 1917 when, in their opinion, the British army had had the best offensive they had ever seen. Haig had come from a cavalry regiment but he still had misgivings about the plan which they say make his actions acceptable. They also recognise another good thing in Haig; he saw the advantages of using aircraft and tanks which helped him win the war in the end. Some people must have liked and respected Haig despite his performance at the Somme because when he died, in 1928, more than 30,000 old soldiers attended his funeral. To conclude; yes I do agree with the view expressed by General Ludendorff that the British army was made up of 'lions led by donkeys' because of the reasons I have stated in my answer. Hannah Hardwick VL VEC ...read more.

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