• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What were the successes and failures of the Allied Offensive on the Somme in 1916? The setting for the battle, the land north and south of the small sleepy river known as the Somme, was in 1914 and still is today a mostly agricultural area. The river banks are home to crops grown on low chalk ridges. However during the Battle of the Somme, these same chalk ridges were occupied by an elaborate maze of German defences. The German army had spent 18 months taking advantage of the dry chalk soil, constructing deep defensive tunnels and dug outs which amounted to approximately 3 to 4 systems of defences. This through down the gauntlet for Kitchener's newly trained army of volunteers. The aims for the battle of the Somme and thus the aims for the BEF were to relieve the pressure on the French at Verdun, force a breakthrough in the German line and end the stalemate on the Western Front. The initial plan for the battle began with a week long artillery bombardment; this was to eliminate the defenders and to break down the barbed wire. ...read more.

Middle

The shell fire was far too sparse along the German front line; the concentration was only 30 tons per square mile. This meant that the shells had not managed to penetrate the deep bunkers, where the German machine gunners had been sheltering. Secondly Rawlinson didn't have enough faith in the ability of his troops, therefore he instructed them to walk across no-mans land at a steady pace. However the German machine gunners had survived, this meant that the victor in this battle would be the first to reach the German parapet. As the British were instructed to walk across no-mans land they lost the race to the parapet and were subsequently easy targets for the German machine gunners. Thirdly the mines that blew ten minutes before the attack began alerted the Germans to the fact an attack was about to take place, this gave them more time in which to reach the parapet. Finally poor communications on the Somme resulted in plans being delivered after events had occurred which made them useless. ...read more.

Conclusion

The battle of the Somme is sometimes viewed as an attritional success. This involved the gradual wearing down of the German army. The fact that the Allies had a larger supply of troops, supplies and armaments at their disposal than the central powers meant that if the attritional stalemate on the Western Front were to continue then the Allies would eventually come out victorious. In conclusion I believe that the battle of the Somme was more of a success than a failure as it taught the BEF how to fight and at the same time degraded the German army. At the end of 1916 the two armies were much more evenly matched than they had been 6 months earlier. Also while British morale remained high, German morale suffered. Captain Von Hentig famously described the Somme as "the muddy grave of the German army." Although generals have justifiably faced criticism for their failure to learn lessons faster and apply the lessons learnt more consistently, I believe that the victory of 1918 was only possible because of the attritional battles of 1915-1917. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Britain 1905-1951 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Britain 1905-1951 essays

  1. Describe the conditions that soldiers experienced on the western front in the years 1915-1917.

    Tanks had not been seen by any other nation before and they were bound to cause some panic amongst the German soldiers. Haig was able to use 49 tanks in the battle He also knew he had millions of eager volunteers who were willing to fight.

  2. How important was Haig's role in the successes and failures of the British Army ...

    Haig would have thought that his plan was a success as more German soldiers were killed than British. Historian, Gary Sheffield, came up with the idea that it was not Haig's strategies that were at fault but the soldiers for not being well trained or that good at fighting.

  1. The first major German offensive occurred at Verdun.

    His first two objectives, �to relieve pressure on Verdun� and �to assist our allies in other theatres of war by stopping any further transfer of German troops from the Western front�, look more like excuses for the failure to gain any real territory.

  2. What were the successes and failures of the Allied Offensive in 1916 on the ...

    Unfortunately, this approach did not go quite as planned. The artillery bombardment had the unfortunate affect of warning the enemy that an attack was about to happen, which gave them lots of time to prepare their forces.

  1. The aims of the British army at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

    in their specially made deep trenches when the bombardment was going on, and only emerged when it had stopped. The British had not been able to use their planes to check that the German trenches, barbed wire, soldiers and heavy artillery had been destroyed because of low-lying clouds throughout all the bombardment days.

  2. Explain how well Haigs background and military experience had prepared him for command of ...

    He had gained this role due to his leadership qualities- he would never give up. He was a responsible leader, and had proved this with previous battles in Sudan, South Africa and India, where he had made quite a name for himself, following his potential after flying through Sandhurst.

  1. history somme

    Although written after the war had happened, so it could be exaggerated, I trust source C more than I trust source B for the main reason that it was written by Private George Coppard who was on the frontline at the time whereas source B was written by Haig who

  2. Haig - The main Allied attack on the Western Front during 1916 was the ...

    and men, no superiority of arms and ammunition, however great, will enable victories to be won without the sacrifices of men's lives." This shows a, possibly, ruthless side to Sir Haig, although what he says may be true. The source is useful when debating whether or not Haig may have regretted his decisions made at the Somme.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work