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

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

Extracts from this document...


Why is the Battle of the Somme regarded as such a great military tragedy? The Battle of the Somme was fought from June to November of 1916, and is one of the most significant events in the war for British history. Overall for the British army, there were about 420,000 casualties, 60,000 of those on the first day alone. The battle was originally planned as an attack by the French with British support, but the German attack in Verdun altered these plans. The French were under immense pressure at Verdun, and the Germans were heavily attacking them. The French couldn't last much longer, so they had to somehow create a diversion. So it was agreed that General Haig would lead a mainly British offensive in the area around the River Somme. The Plan Apart from trying to distract German troops away from Verdun, the aim was to kill as many German troops as possible in the 'war of attrition'. ...read more.


Attitude of Officers Despite the horrific casualties and the apparent failures of the first day, he insisted that the attacks should continue through July and August. He was heavily criticised for simply throwing men at the enemies. But he despised criticism and opposition. He had very high ambitions and was an arrogant man. He was also very single-minded in his offensive. But the most costly mistake he made was when it came to hearing reports. Because of his strong opinions and character, he took little notice of the discouraging reports of failures, and concentrated on the positive reports. This was crucial, as there were only few positive reports, so most of the mission he was turning a blind eye to. Another factor that didn't help is that there was clearly tension between him and General Rawlinson. They disagreed on many decisions, and didn't want to co-operate fully with one another. Because of his strong character, the war battle went on for much longer than it needed to, costing thousands of lives. ...read more.


Aftermath Haig called off the attack with winter approaching, and the battle ended on 18th November. Despite the huge cost of 420,000 casualties, only a strip of land about 25km long and 6km wide were gained. Haig was brutally criticised, and was nicknamed 'The Butcher' even by his own troops. The battle also damaged the leaders' confidence. In the chaos and confusion after the first day of battle many of the reports were misleading and over-optimistic. The high expectations and the confusion about what had happened made the press and public suspicious of their own leaders. Conclusion The reason was clear why this was labelled a tragedy - a horrific amount of casualties, yet the country does not seem in a much better position in the war. Although Haig said the price of victory was lives, nobody could have expected just how high the casualties would have risen. For me, that is the main factor for why the Battle of the Somme was a tragedy; a huge amount of young brave men, led by cowards to their certain death. Candidate Name: Sam Fiske Candidate Number: 6235 ...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 History Projects 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 History Projects essays

  1. Does General Douglas Haig deserve to be remembered as the butcher of the Somme(TM)?

    The purpose of this source is to show that Haig was a good leader. However this is not reliable because the Lieutenant may be defending Haig, so this source can be taken as a biased and a personal viewpoint. Another example of Haig just doing his job is stated in source 13.

  2. Who was the real Custer, and to what extent was he to blame for ...

    Scouts reported the presence of the encampment, but more information stated that they knew of the army. Custer had 'Officer's Call' and ordered another 3 pronged attack. He divided the regiment into three squadrons, one with five troops under his own control, and two with three troops each under Reno

  1. The Battle of the Little Bighorn.

    They gently hinted that he would need a great victory to prove himself to the American people as a noble war leader, because, after all, the President of the USA would have been the commander of the entire American army, a job that Custer would have loved.

  2. Battle of the Somme

    It is ironic that Haig uses the word "informed" as it is clear that in the second extract of source B Haig has not been well informed to the occurrences on the battlefield. Haig is very vague when referring to facts and figures in the first extract of source B

  1. Does Haig deserve to be remembered as the butcher of the somme?

    'Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead.' This is a line from a poem by Siegfried Sassoon, a Captain of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the western front. Source 4 (the poem) clearly defines Haig as a butcher by its constant referral to his incompetence, for

  2. Does Haig deserve his title as "butcher of Somme"?

    the text book, which is a statement that Haig made himself and therefore can be considered trustworthy. Furthermore, in Source 1 Haig warns the nation of the losses expected. This source is written by Haig before the battle of Somme and therefore can be considered entirely trustworthy.

  1. Using Livy, How Great a General was Hannibal?

    He told his men to winter and to return in early spring, but sent out envoys to find out the conditions he would face on his journey - the military and political situation, the logistics of the campaign and the resistance of the Gauls to Roman pressure.

  2. Does Haig deserve the title Butcher of the Somme?

    At 7.30 am the guns stopped firing and more than 100,000 British soldiers climbed out of their trenches in a line 25 kilometres long. In the bright sunshine they walked across no-man's-land towards the German trenches.

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