• 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 involved the main allied attack on the Western Front in the 1st World War

Extracts from this document...


The Battle of the Somme involved the main allied attack on the Western Front in the 1st World War. It is mainly famous due to the loss of 58,000 British troops on the first day of battle (1st July 1916). The attack ran from 1st July until 18th November and was located upon a 30-kilometre front, from North of the Somme River between Arras and Albert. The offensive was planned earlier in 1915 and was intended to be a joint Franco-Anglo attack. The French Commander in Chief, Joffre, said that the aim was to drain the German forces of reserves, however territorial gain also had some input. Sir Douglas Haig was the Commander in Chief of the BEF who would be conducting the major offensive in 1916. Originally, although the British forces made up the bulk of the offensive forces, the attack was to be predominantly French. However the German siege on Verdun at the beginning of 1916 resulted in the diversion of almost all-French manpower and efforts as Falkenhayn had promised to bleed France white. ...read more.


Many charges did not go off and much of the British munitions proved to be 'duds'. The first attacking wave of the offensive went over the top from Gommecourt to the French left flank just south of Montauban. The attack was by no means a surprise as it was frequently discussed and served as merely an alert to the German army to the imminent attack. As a consequence of this lack of surprise and the lack of success of the bombardment the BEF made very little progress in the first few weeks at the beginning of the battle. The French forces at the southern end of the line achieved more success, maybe because their advance bombardment was only sprung a few hours before the attack therefore maintaining the element of surprise. This was also helped by the fact that the Germans did not expect the French to attack, due to their heavy losses at Verdun. For the most part the British troops were forced back into their trenches by the German machine gun fire. ...read more.


Joffre was concerned that Haig should keep up the Somme offensive as otherwise German manpower may be diverted back to Verdun to assist the German defence there. Therefore on 13th November a final effort was made by the BEF in the Battle of the Ancre where the field fortress of Beaumont Hamel was captured. The British were finally progressing, but even this was bought to a halt when extremely bad weather caused the Somme offensive to end. The result had been an estimated 420,000 British casualties, a further 200,000 for the French and around 500,000 for the Germans and all for only 12 kilometres of land in Britain and Frances favour. Over 1 million lives were lost in this battle alone and all the Somme offensive was designed for was to divert German attention from the French at Verdun. Some believe this battle acted as a learning curve in the employment of artillery, which contributed to the victory in 1918. In my opinion it shows the severity and pointlessness of war. Hardly anything was achieved apart from the loss of thousands of lives. ...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. Britain And The Western Front - Sources Questions

    Question 12: According to source K who was responsible for the failure to destroy the barbed wire? According to source K the Generals were responsible for the failure to destroy the barbed wire; according to source K it was a well-known fact that artillery fire doesn't destroy barbed wire.

  2. Describe the conditions that soldiers experienced on the western front in the years 1915-1917.

    J. Terraine, 1982. The war however did begin quickly with the trained and professional troops in combat, but as the casualty list grew the troops had to be replaced by the 'New Army' that was almost entirely made up of civilian volunteers. Because of the lack of experience and very poor training among

  1. World war 1

    Without weakening their grip on the defensive line of trenches, each army tried to outflank the other to gain the advantage. The idea was to get around your enemy to attack from the weaker areas such as the side and from behind.

  2. How far was General Douglas Haig Responsible for the Failings of the British war ...

    It apparently did not bother Haig that his war was so much more comfortable than that of the men he commanded..." This also highlights the fact that Haig was unaware of the dreadful conditions that his men were living in and proves that he was absent most of the time.

  1. How did life for a typical soldier serving in a trench on the western ...

    The uniforms were very different. During the Civil War soldiers on both sides usually had to pay for their own uniforms, and often their own weapons too, because land owners didn't have enough money for everyone's equipment. Soldiers wore a jerkin of buffalo hide --known as a buff coat- over

  2. Why did the Germans become involved in the Battle of Stalingrad?

    Hitler's need for revenge due to the injustice he felt by the signing of the armistace and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles are long term causes because they led to the Battle o Stalingrad but took place along time before the event.

  1. How Far was Haig responsible for the failings of the British War effort on ...

    He would have preferred an attack further north. The Germans were also very good tacticians. They targeted the officers in the field first, leaving the soldiers confused, Haig could do nothing about this. Haig had no other choice but to launch the attack as the French army was on the verge of defeat at Verdun.

  2. Britain And The Western Front of World War One - Sources Questions

    The differences in their opinions are; Haig doesn't believe numerical advantage is important in capturing machine guns as he states it is "a much overrated" weapon whereas Foch acknowledges the machine gun's prowess. Question 9: According to source I what was the difference of opinion between Rawlinson and Haig over the planned offensive?

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