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Why did Haig decide to fight the battle of the Somme in 1916?

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Why did Haig decide to fight the battle of the Somme in 1916? Haig became General Commander in chief of forces in September 1916. At this moment in time, there is a stalemate on the western front. French, the commanding officer before Haig took over that position, left a significant failure. In March 1915, the British army launched an attack on Neuve Chapelle. It tuned out to be a complete failure. The army ran out of shells, lost 12,000 men, and had a devastating affect on morale at home. Only 6 months later, the British army have another failure, at Loos, where their men were killed by their own gas. ...read more.


The Battle of Somme was planned as a joint French and British operation. The idea originally came from the French Commander-in-Chief, Joseph Joffre and was accepted by General Sir Douglas Haig. However when the German forces began an all-out attack on the town of Verdun, French forces had to be diverted and sent to defend Verdun. 5 months and 700,000 deaths later, it was decided by Haig and Joffre that the British forces should execute the operation in the Somme. At first Joffre intended to use mainly French soldiers but the German attack on Verdun in February 1916 turned the Somme offensive into a large-scale British diversionary attack. However Haig would have preferred to attack on a more northern point, for example, Flanders or Ostend, but was not able to as the French and the Government had recommended the Somme as the best place to attack. ...read more.


The Germans object of the attack on Verdun was that France would collapse and the British forces would be isolated and would not be able to continue because their supplies of troops would be cut off as they came via the Channel. The battle was planned to happen on the 4th September 1916. haig was sure about the number of men he would have, and how they would outnumber the Germans(based on estimates). But as the French were failing so much at Verdun, Haig had to bring the date forward to 1st of July. Because of this move, Haig only received half of the men he needed, half of the equipment needed, and realised that there was going to be a lot of losses. Also, at another unfair disadvantage, the Germans had their trenches dug already, giving the British and French troops, the worst possible areas. ...read more.

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