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Why did the British plan for the first day of the battle of the Somme fail?

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Introduction

Why did the British plan for the first day of the battle of the Somme fail? At the end of 1915 the British and French governments held a conference at Chantilly. They decided that they should have a combined attack against the German front line situated at the Somme, where the British and French forces met. This was mostly to the people back in each home country that the British and French were working together in the war, as they had mostly been putting in individual efforts. The attack was planned to take place in August 1916 but because the French were unable to join because of a major attack at Verdunne, which the British hoped to relive by attacking the Somme and drawing away German troops. The date was moved to the 1st of July so the British armed forces could be ready without the help of the French. The bombardment of the German trenches had started seven days previous to this date of attack Sir Henry Rawlinson devised the plan and Field Marshall Douglas Haig oversaw the carry out of the plan. The plan was to bombard the German trenches with eighteen miles of artillery shelling for seven days and seven nights. ...read more.

Middle

The artillery firing was also of low standard, most were obsolete and had to be used to make up the numbers and so this took down the accuracy of the shelling. Because the shelling was supposed to destroy all barbed wire obstructing the German trenches it was a surprise to the walking British troops that the shells, due to their poor quality had only made gaps in the wire. This caused the funneling effect of the British army on their walk to the German trenches. The reason for only making gaps in the wire is because the wrong types of shells were used. The shells were packed with shrapnel and their force was aimed up when another type of shell with a downward explosion should have been used. The effect of this failure meant that the British troops had to funnel towards the gaps in the barbed wire and the Germans were still alive in their bunkers and so could rush to their parapet (The lip of the German trench) And they could fire upon the British troops. Due to the lack of faith Rawlinson had in the inexperienced troops. ...read more.

Conclusion

If the British had won the race to the parapet they could have shot the Germans as they came out of their bunkers and won the battle. They didn't and so lost the first day. One regiment ran and disobeyed orders these were the Royal Ulster regiment. They made it through to the second trenches where they were shelled by their own artillery. I think the most important reason for the failure of the bombardment was the fact the Germans were hidden underground and this is because them surviving was the reason so many British soldiers died and so failed the plan to take the trenches safely and with little or no casualties. This failure was not really to blame on the British. It was a fact unknown to them that the Germans had bunkers but I think that if they had a little more faith in their men and not their plan, then they would have taken precautions, such as letting the men run. I the men had of run they could have killed all German troops hiding anyway and so them walking was the most important reason for them loosing the race to the parapet and ultimately the battle on the first day. Ben Squire 11.3 ...read more.

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