How should we remember the Battle of the Somme? • A brutal campaign of attrition that achieved its main objectives • A tribute to the heroism of ordinary soldiers
Haig’s intentions. • The Somme was originally intended as a heavy attack from the south by the French, with British making a diversionary attack to the north. • But the Battle of Verdun had used up so many French divisions that when the attack was launched it was the British who undertook the main assault. • The intentions of the artillery bombardment were high as an eight-day preliminary bombardment took place, firing nearly 1.7 million shells at the German’s positions. • For reassurance the British would WALK over no-man’s land just to engulf the German trenches and prevail victoriously. • The objectives were to gain territory, draw German troops away from Verdun and Kill as many German soldiers as possible as part of the “war of attrition”.
Feasible options • The Somme's Western front was mainly rural and exposed to opposing attacks.This provided no means of protection and evasive action. • Tanks, bomber planes and any other means of warfare transportation were not available for use at the start of the Battle of the Somme. • The only way to attack was on foot. • Although this was a highly dangerous manoeuvre, any other way was highly implausible. • In addition they had high expectations for the success of the artillery bombardment, they thought it would be more effective.
The Somme: Hell on earth. . • The first day of the Somme offensive was the bloodiest in the history of the British army. • More than 20,000 were killed and 30,000 injured. • Sixty per cent of all the officers were also killed. • The offensive, which took place between 1st of July and 18th of November 1916, was intended as a decisive breakthrough for the allies. Instead it became a slow battle of attrition which led to more than a million casualties.
Aftermath • Sir Douglas Haig’s flawed tactics contributed towards the first signs of war-weariness. • The Battle sustained more than a million casualties. • The Machine gun was a weapon of slaughter • The Battle lasted until November 1916
Achievements. • On the 15th of September Haig renewed offensive with the assistance of tanks, which helped increased allied penetration. • Haig’s armies took 188,700 prisoners and 2,840 guns. • Technological advancements were also a success. • After 4 months of brutal conflict the allies prevailed. Awarded for the achievements of the commanding officer Sir Douglas Haig! (Not)
“It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further.” -Major-General Sir Beauvoir de Lisle, Commander of the 29th British Division, reporting on the efforts of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment.