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The Battleof Somme

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The Battle of Somme Germany's 'muddy grave' In this battle the British and French were together. The French role had been cut back by about 50 per cent, though, because they were involved in fighting off a fierce German attack on Verdun. General Haig went ahead with the attack because at the very least, the attack would force the Germans to move troops from their attack on the French at Verdun. This is a battle report from the British's point of view written after the whole battle has finished. Date the war started was on the 1st of July 1916, the first day was a disaster and it was soon obvious that the offensive would never succeed. 40 000 British troops were wounded and 20 000 killed. Half the troops who attacked on that day became casualties. Despite this, the offensive went on until November at a harsh cost of 420 000 British killed and wounded. The French lost 195 000. The Germans were forced to send troops form Verdun and so pressure on the French was eased. The German army had also suffered heavily, losing many of its best junior officers (captains and lieutenants) ...read more.


The British barrage, with few guns, was not. This was the key. Haig, and the man in charge of carrying out the attack, General Rawlinson, believed that the 1.5 million shells fired during the barrage would destroy the German positions. Therefore, 'rushing' tactics would not be needed. There wouldn't be any opposition! Why did the British attack on the Somme fail? * The British had to cut and tape paths in their own wire before the attack. This tipped off the Germans. * The Germans were able to fire at the gaps cut in the British wire. It was through these gaps that the British had to come. * The British barrage inflicted little damage on the Germans or their trenches. * The barrage did not destroy the German wire to let the British troops through. * The troops were ordered to attack the Germans at waling pace rather than rushing. This was also because they had so much equipment on there backs that they couldn't run, it was like carrying there own body weight. The Plan The battle was originally planned as an attack by the French army with British support. ...read more.


on 1st July. Attacks usually began at dawn, but the commanders were confident that there would be little resistance. Two huge mines placed under the German lines by sappers were detonated. The noise could be heard from London. The assault began. Twenty-seven divisions (about 750,000 men) went over the top against the Germans' 16 divisions. The French forces made some quick gains. They were more experienced than the British in such battles and they were moving quickly because they were not weighed down by sacks. However the French found themselves isolated and had to withdraw agai8n because most of the British were advancing to slowly. The slow pace of the British advance gave the Germans enough time to emerge from their dug-outs and to set up machine guns. Some German gunners said that the sheer numbers of the British forces would have overwhelmed them, if they had charged more quickly. The wire was undamaged in many areas, so the British troops were funnelled into areas where there were gaps in the wire. They were sitting targets for the German gunners. There were around 57,000 casualties on the first day, about a third of them killed. Haig was bitterly criticised for this by his own soldiers, politicians and all over the newspapers. The battle ended on the 13th of November 1916. Chris Phillips 1 08/05/2007 ...read more.

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