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The Battle of the Somme - source related study

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Lee Hiorns 27th March 2003 History Filework: The Battle of the Somme 1. Uses sources 15.H, 15.I to explain why the British suffered such huge losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. From three sources I am trying to find out why the British suffered such a huge loss on the first day of 'the battle of the Somme'. Sources 15.I and 15.J are both written by British soldiers, 15.H is written by a German soldier. Source 15.H suggests a few reasons why the British suffered such a huge loss on the first day of the Somme. Firstly Germans had a lot of machine guns, which they could set up easily and was there main firepower. The average machine gun at that time could fire around 400 rounds a minute, so this could be very easy for the Germans to instantly kill and take out British men coming towards them. The British thought that they had killed all the Germans, but because the enemy trenches were deep and well dug out, the German soldiers were not visible. So, British soldiers just walked at a steady space and in an open space without any protection, so they were then shot down straight away. ...read more.


The German account, which was source 15.H agrees with the British account on some things, which Is source 15.J. They are both punctual and start their days attack at 7:30am. But later on in the source, it says, "We were roused at 7am for roll call." So they may have arisen at different times, but the attack on each other, was at 7:30 am. Also, both sources agreed that the British infantry soldiers were everywhere all lined up, left to right and moving towards the German trenches. The two sources agreed that when the first line of British soldiers had reached the German front line, machine guns opened fire. From the sources, I can see that they agree being in a battlefield, with machine guns going off everywhere, that it would have been a terrible experience. The machine guns were very quickly, pulled out of the German trenches and dugouts, from source 15.H, its says, "the rattle of machine guns and rifle broke out." Both sources agreed that British soldiers were falling to the ground, one by one and very quickly. Source 15.J says, "Men were falling, like ninepins and source 15.H says, "All along the line, men could be seen throwing their arms up and collapsing." ...read more.


The pie chart below shows the totals of different casualties: 4.b. Explain the tree aims given by Haig in 15N. Do you think that these aims justify the casualties? Explain your answer. Sir Douglas Haig was a British Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshall. Haig thought that the Battle of the Somme was a great victory for the British and the allies, regardless of how many noble soldiers were killed in the tragic battle. By the third week of November, Haig's three main objects had been achieved. Verdun had been relieved. Strength of the enemies had been worn down. Also, all the German forces had been held on the Western front. I quote from source 15.N (a speech by Sir William Haig) "The attainment of all three of them affords ample compensation for the splendid efforts of our troops." I do not think these aims justify Haig's speech. During the battle, 419654 British soldiers were killed. All these men, just for three aims, that probably didn't have any influence on Britain and the allies winning the war. From source 15.L, I can see that the allies only gained approximately 12 miles, out of all that fighting. Compared with all the land gained by Britain and the allies, when Germanys plan of the Lundendorff offensive failed. ...read more.

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