• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Battle of the Somme

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

GCSE History Coursework: Assignment 1 Question 1 1. In 1916, the Germans launched a major attack on the French fortresses in Verdun. The French were close to defeat but were determined not to surrender. They knew the British were about to launch a major attack on the Western Front which would take pressure off them. They also knew that the Germans were likely to call off the attack at Verdun if they were to defend against the English. The Battle of the Somme was known as the 'Big Push' that was hoped to end in a British victory- the breakthrough that would end the stalemate on the Western Front. The generals in charge at the Somme were Haig and Rawlinson. Haig was responsible for the planning of and directing the attack. He used very old-fashioned tactics. He believed that the machine gun was overrated and that we could win the war using cavalry alone. The principles of the attack were heavy artillery bombardment followed by mass infantry assault. The plan was to constantly bombard the German trenches with shells in order to destroy the front line and create a gap in the barbed-wire for the infantry to pass through It was hoped that if ...read more.

Middle

The rapid fire meant the well-armed Germans just cut through the soldiers until they were all dead, The Somme was also such a disaster because of the Generals' tactics. The horrific 1st day did not deter them from continuing for 4 months, knowing there was nearly no chance of a break-through. They were slaughtering the men with no results, Haig, especially is thought to be mainly to blame for the disaster. He used old-fashioned tactics which had failed miserably before, only this time on a much bigger scale. Basically, he was gambling with men's lives. Theoretically Rawlinson was in charge. Possibly, Haig disagreed with the plan but he was reluctant to overrule him. Overall, the Allies gained only a small amount of land, often lost immediately. This did not justify the loss of 420,000 men. GCSE History Coursework: Assignment 1 Question 3 3. The British Army at the Somme being described as 'lions led by donkeys' was a very clever statement as it is true on many levels. This quote was spoken by the German General Ludendorff. The fact that he was German is very significant, as by saying this, he is showing true respect for the British soldiers. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, describing the Generals as donkeys is not always correct or accurate. The Allies were ultimately victorious which wouldn't have been possible if the Generals were totally incompetent Also, the German army at the Somme was extremely good, therefore it wasn't necessarily the tactics that had failed, it was just bad luck. The Generals at the Somme were put under great strain. It is very likely that no other British General could've withstood the pressure. The General particularly in question when discussing the Somme is Haig. He wasn't as incompetent as people think and being known as the 'bungler' or 'butcher' is rather harsh. He often varied his tactics to cope with the problems encountered and was devoted to his men. Also, he was trusted by the soldiers, a thing which many Generals lacked. When people cheered for him at the end of the war, he showed great modesty, claiming it was the soldiers they should be cheering for. In conclusion, it is clear to see there is a lot of evidence both agreeing and disagreeing with General Ludendorff's statement. I however, agree overall with the quotation 'lions led by donkeys'. Even though the Generals were not as incompetent as people often think, they made some stupid mistakes that cost Britain thousands of innocent men. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Britain 1905-1951 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Britain 1905-1951 essays

  1. General Haig - Butcher or Hero?

    We see that the tactical decisions were based on a protocol of attacking mentality, involving honourably running & screaming towards the enemy with bayonets, followed by a glorious, sweeping charge of cavalry. ('Forward, Joe Soaps army, marching without fear'). These tactics from the '1900 Cavalry Training Manual' (on which Haig

  2. Haig Coursework

    '...and were soon bogged down or knocked out'. He ends by stating that the tanks' trial run had evidently failed. It was unwise to try out an untested weapon in a major battle. Source 7 however is taking an opposite view point by sympathising with Haig's mindset. Quoting Haig, Terry Norman (the writer)

  1. How important were Haig's tactics in bringing an end to WW1?

    There was a stalemate on the Western Front, Russia were under attack by all the central powers and had supplies to fight back because of the closing of the Dardanelles. Nevertheless, Churchill's plan was gone ahead with and a fleet of British and French ships began the attack on Gallipoli in February 1915.

  2. Dunkirk - Defeat, Deliverance or Victory?

    Source 6 is a picture (photograph) of British troops in an orderly line walking through the water calmly. There is no evidence of casualties or bullet fire, and it simply shows them walking towards their vessel as if there is no threat at all. I assume this picture is from mid-way through Dunkirk since the Germans

  1. Windsor Coursework

    We went to the high street with all the shops and first approached a middle aged lady, and asked her if she could help us out in filling the survey. After her, we continued until we had asked 5 tourists.

  2. The great war: The battle of the Somme.

    Another reason for choosing the Somme was that the river was connected between the British army in the North, and the French army in the South, and therefore it was hoped to be joint attack with the Allies, as the politicians wanted it to be.

  1. womens crsk history

    The poster shows a woman looking glamorous, but it not showing how dangerous working in a munitions factory can be. For example, it is dangerous because of TNT poisoning. This is when your skin turns yellow and the chemical in the TNT poisons you.

  2. history somme

    One of the reasons I agree is because in Source D it describes how Haig's decided that their going to go over the top, then it leads to the other man saying 'you mean are we going to get killed?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work