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The first major German offensive occurred at Verdun.

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Introduction

The first major German offensive occurred at Verdun, in 1916 against the French, and not long after, in June of the same year the French were on the brink of defeat. Just as this became apparent the British launched an offensive of their own, along the River Somme; this resulted in he Germans calling the battle of Verdun to a halt. The British commanders� plan of attack was simple. They would basically hit the German army as hard as they possibly could, by firing all their artillery at the German front for several days, until they had knocked out all the barbed wire, machine guns, and the majority of the infantry, thus weakening the lines sufficiently for the men to go �over the top� and clean up with their rifles. For almost a week the Guns fired a huge number of shells into the German trenches. Sir Douglas Haig famously said, �not even a rat would be alive�. When the guns had finished, at about half past seven on the morning of July 1st the British and French soldiers were ordered to go �over the top�, they didn�t however duck and run. They marched slowly, upright exposing their chests to the hail of bullets that were about to come their way. The Germans were ready for this attack, and had known about it for a good time, so had prepared themselves accordingly, digging large trenches, and lowering their machine guns on pulleys. ...read more.

Middle

Source D: (Extract from a letter written by Lloyd-George to Haig on 21st September 1916 after his visit to the Somme) Before we study this source further we must remember these points. Firstly, that the two men in question had a severe dislike of each other, yet in this report Lloyd-George is praising Haig highly. We must also remember that Lloyd-George was at this time aiming to become PM, and Haig being a very influential member of the government was almost certainly needed as an ally in his race for leadership. I do not perceive this source as wholly reliable, although it is certainly genuine, the reasons above may be more what caused Lloyd-George to use the statement �I can say that the heartening news of the last few days has confirmed our antic from essaybank.co.uk ipation and hopes that the tide has now turned in our favour. I congratulate you most warmly on the skill with which your plans were laid� than true pleasure in what Haig was doing. Source E: (Extract from �My War Memoirs� by the German General Ludendorff, 1919) Source E follows a now familiar pattern, i.e. the general making excuses for his mistakes. This time however it seems a bit stranger, as it is now the defeated General, and so should be seen as a very reliable source. ...read more.

Conclusion

As a soldier he would have been more concerned about his comrades and his own life than of the winning of the war at this point, and so would hold a more personal opinion. The benefit of a source like this is that this man was there in the midst of the action, and experienced the stupidity of the generals� first hand, and had to face the consequences. Whereas the others although they are still primary sources, they had no actual involvement in the action itself. Conclusion: The Somme was a disaster, it is very easy to agree whole heartedly with this, the evidence is all there for the taking; the immense loss of life, the pitiful ground gained mad it a total waste. However we must look further into it than this to make an informed decision, although all the previous statements are true, there is also the fact that it did serve to relieve a lot of pressure of the French at Verdun. It also wore down the German soldiers, both mentally and physically; significantly, this helped a great deal in their eventual defeat, thus was a major step in winning the war, and for this reason, makes the Somme a success. It is therefore very difficult to classify the Somme as either a total disaster, or a total success. It is in many ways both of these, a success due to the positive things that came out of it, and a crushing disaster due to the losses that were generated by it. ...read more.

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