Battle of the Somme

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  • Created by: mayad1511
  • Created on: 13-08-16 14:30
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  • Battle of the Somme - July - October 1916
    • Why did the attack fail?
      • 1) German trenches were too deep to be destroyed by artillery. When soldiers went over the top, the defences were mostly undamaged
      • 2) The British troops were ordered to walk and carried heavy packs. This made them easy targets.
      • 3) The barbed wire was not broken in most places:  machine guns killed soldiers as they tried to get through the gaps.
    • Was Haig a 'Butcher'?
      • No
        • Haig was wrong to believe artillery could destroy the German defences. Their trenches were deep and strong.
        • Troops were ordered to advance at walking pace. This resulted in heavy casualties.
        • On the first day of the attack, almost 20,000 died and 40,000 were wounded
        • Haig ordered the troops to keep going over the top, even when it was clear the German trenches had not been destroyed
        • When the attack was called off, the Allies had only advanced 6km
      • Yes
        • Trench warfare was new to the military commanders. It was widely believed that attrition was the only way to break the stalemate
        • One purpose of the attack was to relieve the French at Verdun by drawing German troops to the Somme. This worked
        • Haig did vary his tactics - for instance, tanks were used in Sept 1916 and artillery was used to create smoke screens (creeping barrage). Later in the war, these tactics would be used successfully
        • The Somme did result in heavy German casualties. This would affect them later on in the war.
    • The bloodiest battle of WW1, resulting in 1.25m casualties. Haig was the commander of the British forces
    • Going over the top
      • 1) The attacking side's artillery bombarded the front-line trenches of the enemy - This was called a barrage.
      • 2) When the barrage had stopped, attacking troops would go over. The defenders had to set up their machine guns before the attackers got over the barbed wire of no mans land.
      • 3) The defenders usually had the advantage. They swept the advancing attackers with machine gun fire, sometimes setting up a cross-fire.
      • 4) If the attackers did capture forward positions, they then had to hold them. This generally proved impossible and they were usually forced back to their original position,


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