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Battle of the Somme

Battle of the Somme. Answers. The Somme One in seven were killed and four in ten wounded Chief Sir Douglas Haig 1916 1 st July and 15 th September 21000 dead and 40000 wounded. Background to the battle.

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Battle of the Somme

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  1. Battle of the Somme

  2. Answers • The Somme • One in seven were killed and four in ten wounded • Chief Sir Douglas Haig • 1916 • 1st July and 15th September • 21000 dead and 40000 wounded

  3. Background to the battle • In September 1914, the British and French armies had succeeded in halting the advancing Germans at the battle of the Marne, where they then became locked in their trench systems which stretched from the Belgium to the Swiss border (25000 mile trenches) • Germany remained on the defensive there, while they advanced against Russia • Diversions had failed at the Dardanelles and therefore a full scale frontal attack was their only choice • Attack was the design of Field Marshal Douglas Haig • The two main sectors were the Ypres Salient in Flanders and the Somme in Picardy • Elevated land meant that the Germans had higher ground

  4. The Battle Plan

  5. Background to the Battle • Passchendaele is wet and flat, no natural drainage • German positions were dry, while the British front lines were waterlogged • Germans held camouflaged pill box garrisons (miniature fortresses) • Weather was really bad in 1917 • All this spelt looming disaster • The success of the new British artillery tactics since the Somme led the Germans to use obstacles to stop the infantry including wire entanglements. These had a major influence on the New Zealand attacks there

  6. New Zealanders at Passchendaele • Two British offensives commenced in Flanders in 1917 – Messines in early June, followed six long weeks later by the Battle of Ypres, lasting from July to September • The New Zealanders played a role in the outstanding success at Messines, but its involvement at Ypres was limited to just 2 battles among 8 separate offensives • 24th September 1917 NZ division was ordered to move to this area – a 6 day trek, marching 20 miles a day – this tested the troops

  7. The 8 battles were:- • Pilckem Ridge (31 July – 2nd August) • Langemarck (16th – 18th August) • Menin Road (20 -25th Sept) • Polygon Wood (26 Sept – 3rd Oct) • Broodseinde (4th October) • Poelcappelle (9th October) • First Passchendaele (12th October) • Second Passchendaele (26 Oct – 10 Nov) • ** Note New Zealanders fought in Broodseinde and First Passchendaele

  8. New Zealand casualties • On 12 October 1917, 845 New Zealanders were killed in one morning at Passchendaele, Belgium. This was the greatest loss of life in a single day in NZ’s history – more than the combined totals of deaths from the eruption of Mt Tarawera, the Hawkes Bay Earthquake, the Tangiwai rail disaster, the sinking of the Wahine and the Air New Zealand plane crash on Mt Erebus

  9. Consequences of Passchendaele • In the years following 1917, New Zealanders have remembered the sacrifice of Passchendaele and other battles in a variety of ways. Many returned servicemen suffered in silence, wracked by nightmares and lingering wounds. Families mourned lost loved ones publicly and privately • Most visible symbols are the hundreds of war memorials that were erected across New Zealand • However given the huge numbers who died there, why do the events at Passchendaele go largely unnoticed in the New Zealand calendar?

  10. Remembering the battle • AB 608, Passchendaele on display at New Zealand Railways' centennial celebrations in Christchurch in 1963 • In 1925 the minister of railways, Gordon Coates, agreed to a proposal to name a steam locomotive ‘in memory of those members of the New Zealand Railways who fell in the Great War’. More than 5000 railwaymen served overseas between 1914 and 1918 (out of a total workforce of 14,000), and 447 were killed. After considering the names Somme, Le Quesnoy and Ypres, Coates chose Passchendaele

  11. Debate • Debate in pairs why we have an Anzac Day in April as opposed to a Passchendaele Day in October.

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