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The battle of the Somme was planned originally to be a joint operation by the British and French troops.

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Introduction

History Coursework - Question 1 Tragedy is defined as a shocking or sad event. The battle of the Somme was planned originally to be a joint operation by the British and French troops. The French were at the time engaged in a battle with the Germans at Verdun. The Somme battle was created to distract the German army from Verdun and to destroy manpower in the Somme. The Somme was one of Germany's strongest defence lines; the German trenches were also located on the higher ground. This evidence alone some would say the attack was doomed before it began. The Somme bore enormous amounts of casualties from both Allied and German troops. The first day alone saw Britain face the largest number of casualties ever seen in combat. A total of six to seven miles were gained by the allied troops during the long and treacherous battle, which was only called of due to bad weather. The endless hours of planning came to no avail when the decided tactics failed to make any severe or hard-hitting impacts on the enemy. A large majority of the soldiers located at the Somme were young boys some who had conscripted illegally, these boys were known collectively as 'Kitcheners army' for the simple reason that Kitchener headed a recruitment propaganda campaign back in England. ...read more.

Middle

The German intelligence officers interrupted this message and were then able to identify that the attack was about to take place. As we have learnt already that the German trenches were being shelled constantly and the Germans knew that an attack would soon follow when the barrage halted. Haig had made no contingency plan so as the soldiers witnessed the tactics failing to dent the German defences they were forced to continue with the battle. The officers in change of the battle appeared to be inflexible. A source from 'Great Battle of World War 1' by Anthony Livesey says, "It was probably this inability to recognise defeat that led to his continuing attacks on the Somme". Haig and the other generals refused to believe that the bombardment had no effect. Subordinates to Haig, informed him the preparation for the battle had been successful. This played a large part in the tragedy of the battle of the Somme. Haig instructed his men to carry trench repair kits for when they successfully reached and captured the enemy trench. As this plan unfolded in an unimaginable way the soldiers were unable to escape the enemy fire as the heavy rucksacks they were forced to carry weighed them down and disadvantaged their mobility. ...read more.

Conclusion

In some cases the shelling was only a few meters out when the British were trying to destroy enemy trenches. Today we are now less prepared to accept casualties at the time of the Great War it was seen as inevitable that troops would die. Haig's attitude that "the nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists" was acceptable back then, today this attitude could be the ending of an officer's career. After the battle Haig was seen as a hero, now he has been dead for a long time some would argue that historians now are more willing to expose his 'true' vision and tactics. Also in the time of the war people were less inclined to argue with authority for example if people then did not agree with Haig's tactics they would not speak out against him whereas now there would be widespread media coverage of the fact. In conclusion I believe the Somme is regarded as such a military tragedy as thousands of lives were needlessly lost. The tactics used also make it a tragedy as inaccuracies could have been easily avoided with more in depth planning. Even though the battle was recorded as a victory morally it was one of the worst battles the British army had ever seen. Philippa Halliday 11Hope Mr Mackenzie ...read more.

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