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The Battle of The Somme:

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The Battle of The Somme: A Disaster from Day One? The British forces attacked at the Somme in the spring/summer of 1916, confident of their ability and determined to emerge victorious. They were brought into the battle by the French, who insisted on their help due to the extreme pressure they were under at the time in Verdun. In preparation for the great attack, the British pounded the enemy trenches with heavy artillery for seven days, non-stop. The roar of gunfire could be heard as far away as London, and when the barrage finally did end the British confidently made their way forward, assured that not so much as a rat had escaped the bombing. However, on the 1st of July 1916, when the British did move ahead towards the German trenches they found the enemy alive and fighting - over 58,000 allie troops were lost, one third were fatalities. How could the attack have turned so disastrous? What had went so terribly wrong that so many lost their lives? ...read more.


It's secondary purposes were to both destroy the German forces stationed there, aswell as their machine guns together with any other artillery. The gunfire ended and it was determined that a creeping barrage would precede the advancing troops, on to the German frontline - suddenly, thunder erupted from the enemy lines, killing hundreds of British and French soldiers in an instant. Those that made it to the enemy wire found it in a great tangled array, but still very much intact. The artillery bombardment had failed to destroy either the German barbed wire or their heavily built concrete bunkers, their dug-outs - where many of the Germans had taken refuge and survived. There are several explanations as to why the allie strategy failed. Firstly, many of the munitions used by the British had proved to be 'duds' - very badly constructed and completely ineffective. This was mainly due to the sudden vast demand for the shells munitions that had overloaded the weapon industry, haste making them inaccurate and unresponsive. Secondly, the fact that shrapnel was not able to obliterate the wire was entirely over looked, a deadly mistake that had been partially responsible for the loss of many lives. ...read more.


The new 'secret-weapon' was hoped to break the deadlock between the two sides, but infact only attained a limited success. The tanks were extraordinarily slow and very hard to maneuver, and only 32 of the 49 machines that were lined up for the assualt actually started. The British advanced about a mile and a half but no breakthrough was made. Finally, on the 13 of November 1916, Haig shut down the offensive. For an advance of eight miles the British had suffered 420,000 casualties and the French 200,000. But German casualties had been equally heavy and, with a smaller army, Germany was less able to sustain such losses. Soldiers on both sides grew sick of the fighting, recognising it as 'sheer slaughter' rather than a battle of virtue. Overall, the Battle of the Somme had not been a complete disaster for France and Britain. It had resulted in the gain of, at the most, 15 km of land, and it had helped to bring attention away from other German attack points such as Verdun. Also, although the casualties were great they were fairly even on both sides. The battle itself had helped to strengthen the British army, although that strength came at very high a price. ...read more.

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