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Why did Haig decide to fight the battle of the Somme in 1916 and why did he fail to achieve his objectives (600 words max, 20 marks)

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Great War Coursework Essay 3 Why did Haig decide to fight the battle of the Somme in 1916 and why did he fail to achieve his objectives (600 words max, 20 marks) Haig decided to fight the Battle to relieve French pressure at Verdun, to regain territory, to gain more experience within the Army and to destroy the enemy's army. Douglas Haig became general in late 1915 and by February 1916, the allied generals had decided that a "combined offensive should be carried out across the Somme". Haig wanted to not only destroy the German army but in the process regain territory that had been lost in France. Later on in February, the Germans struck a heavy blow against the French army at Verdun and so attacking on the Somme would draw the German forces away. ...read more.


When the offensive at the Somme began, Haig had many objectives which needed to be completed. Unfortunately, many of them weren't. Firstly, using the bombardment he hoped to annihilate the enemy barbed wire and thus make it easier for the British troops to attack the trenches. This regrettably didn't go as planned, because as the shells hit the barbed wire, instead of destroying or deactivating them, they just sent the wire in the air, only to land back where they had started, often more tangled than before. Another reason why Haig failed in his objectives was the fact that he decided to use a bombardment followed by ground troop offensive, but when the bombing finished at 7.20am, the troops did not go "over the top" until 7.30am. ...read more.


These reasons also show why Haig failed to achieve his objectives. There was also a definite overestimation of the effectiveness of the tank, the tactics used and the overall power of the troops on Haig and Joffre's part, as their initial objectives showed that the Allies would have had to gain 4000 yards and using a thinly spread amount of artillery across a 25000 yard front line. This was a serious overestimation and so also adds to why they did not achieve their objectives. Another serious flaw in the plan of attacking at the Somme was the severe under-estimation of the enemy's ability to recuperate. In retrospect, it can be concluded that Haig "overestimated the ability of his own army" and he "was overambitious in his objectives". WORD COUNT: 606 ?? ?? ?? ?? Matthew Conway History Coursework ...read more.

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