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

    Allies and that would have meant victory for the enemies for sure. However, with the extra men that the Allies would have had from not giving men to the Russian cause may have helped the Allies more then the Germans on the Western Front.

  1. Were Lions led by donkeys in World war one?

    Lance Thompson wrote this source, in 1978. I think this source agrees with the view that lions were led by donkeys, because although it says that Haig managed to win the war without help from airplanes or tanks, he should've used a different method to win the war, instead of killing all those people.

  2. Windsor Coursework

    It approximately took about 15 minutes for our group. After that we had to look for 5 residents to help us out, and this took slightly longer as some were at work, university and so on.

  1. Why is the Battle of the Somme regarded as such a great military tragedy?

    and died, he was horrified and said, "Do you mean to tell me that soldiers had to fight under such conditions?" And when he was told that it was so, he said: "Why was I never told about this before?"'

  2. Dunkirk - Defeat, Deliverance or Victory?

    Despite men being saved, Dunkirk was one of Britain's first major defeats in its history and this cannot be denied. The amount of machinery lost certainly strengthens the argument that Dunkirk was a complete disaster for Churchill but he realized the situation could have been worse if 330,000 men were massacred on those beaches.

  1. Haig Coursework

    Source 6 is obviously highly critical of Haig's decision to use the tank in the Battle of the Somme. He holds the view that not only did Haig use the tanks before they had even been properly tested in battle, but 'only fifty' implies that he thinks that the number

  2. womens crsk history

    She also had a return ticket home, so I know that she did not intend to die, but to just stop the horse. I can also see that women would do anything to just show how much that they do want the vote.

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