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Why is the Battle of the Somme regarded as such a great military tragedy?

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Introduction

Why is the Battle of the Somme regarded as such a great military tragedy? The Battle of the Somme started on July 1st 1916 and lasted until November that year. The battle took place in Somme, France. The Somme was an idea pitched to Sir Douglas Haig by Joseph Joffre the French Commander-in-Chief. Joffre wanted the attack to gain large amounts of territory and destroy German manpower but Haig wanted a large attack to take place in Flanders. Haig accepted Joffre's proposal. The attack was used as a diversion to release the pressure on the French army at Verdun. To come to my conclusion on whether the Somme was a military tragedy or not I will discuss the following: causes of the battle; the events leading up to the battle; the result; and the different opinions. In 1916, the trenches were such a small area crammed with ammunition dumps, hospitals, delousing centres and light railways these were to be the base for millions of men for a further two years. The war was not just on the Western Front; British troops were serving all over the world at this time. Troops in the trench were usually knee high in water and suffered many diseases such as trench foot. ...read more.

Middle

David Lloyd George believed that the Somme was only one element that led to pressure being reduced in Verdun and he believed that the Somme was a failure. James Lovegrove, a lieutenant in the British Army, is very critical of Haig. Lovegrove believes that Haig, although he was just doing his job, cared nothing for the casualties. He also believes that the Government cared nothing for the casualties either because Haig was given a lump sum and massive pension after the war, Lovegrove believes that Haig should have never been in charge of men and blames his public schooling. Henry Hamilton Fyfe, a Daily Mail reporter, met Haig on several occasions during the First World War. Fyfe was very disappointed when he first met Haig. Haig, although he looked the part of a soldier, he was shy and afraid of the media. Fyfe believes that Haig should be held responsible for the mass slaughter in the Somme battles and in Flanders, because he sent men to fight against 'positions far too strong to be carried out by assault'. Lieutenant Bernard Montgomery, a soldier in the First World War is very critical of his senior officers. ...read more.

Conclusion

I do not think that the Somme was worth the number of lost lives, but it did contribute to the winning of the war on the Western Front. If the Somme were not fought, would the Germans have won the war? The Somme can be used as an example to show people the consequences of war, to try to ensure that if there is another war that there will be no casualties amounting to that of the Somme. The nature of war is changing all of the time; Haig used his resources to the best of his ability to win the war, that's what he was paid to do. He would not have purposely killed nearly half a million men because he felt like it and the men knew that there was the possibility of dying on the Western Front or on any front when they signed up for the army. To evaluate the war we have to see the big picture, if different decisions had been made would the number of casualties been greater or smaller, we cannot be sure, the only thing that we are sure of is that Haig believed that his plans would win the war and they did, just at a large cost to human life. ...read more.

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