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What were the successes and failures of the Allied Offensive in 1916 on the Somme??

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Introduction

What were the successes and failures of the Allied Offensive in 1916 on the Somme?? The Battle of the Somme can be shown as a victory or a failure, because the Allies only gained 7 miles in the four month campaign and they didn't even manage to complete their objective of reaching Bapaume. Bad experience combined with bad tactics plus the fact that bad orders made the whole offensive seem quite disastrous. The Battle of the Somme was intended to be a French British effort on the 1st August 1916. However, the French had many casualties at Verdun and so the offensive was put forward to 1st July, by order of General Joffre. The aim was to sidetrack German attention from Verdun in defence of the Somme. Haig wanted to attack later on, on the open plains of Flanders where there was more to gain, and when the volunteer army raised by Kitchener had been trained more fully. ...read more.

Middle

The German trenches were well constructed and heavily fortified. The Germans were able to shelter in their underground bunkers in reasonable safety until the infantry attack started. The bombardment had churned up the ground badly, throwing barbed wire in the air, and tangling it up further. This clearly made the advance more difficult. Many British shells failed to explode leaving the German defences virtually untouched in parts. So, when the infantry went over-the-top of the dug outs at 7:30 am on 1st July, wave after wave were ploughed down by enemy fire. About 60,000 men were killed or wounded by the end of the offensive. The French, attacking where the defences were weaker, had been more successful yet without back up from the British they were unable to hold on to their advance. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bogged down in mud, the Allied Forces could claim only to have taken ten kilometres of ground from the German defenders. Overall casualty figures were shockingly high; 419,654 British and Empire Forces, 204,253 French and probably about 500,000 German. I think the Offensive was a failure. This was because of a number of reasons. I think Haig was wrong to send men in again, but this was due to bad advice from his subordinates. They put a positive twist on it. So for this reason, I don't think this bloodshed was needed. Also I think that the failure was too exaggerated at home in England, this was due to conservative papers/magazines, and this was because Haig was looked upon as being a bad officer. This was not entirely true. He did eventually lead the Allies to a Victory, but the Somme was indeed a failure. Daniel Ibbotson 11BR ...read more.

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