Battle of the Somme 1916

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  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 06-05-13 12:50

The Battle of the Somme was of high importance

  • Improvements developed in military strategy e.g. Military leaders developed strategies for successful coordinating of artillery bombardment with infrantry advance, "creeping barrage".
  • Improvements were made in key equipment such as munitions were developed and shells were made more precise to limit damage to the soldiers deploying them.
  • Germans decided after the first day to halt all fruther attack at Verdun
  • Stratefically, the Somme achieved its aim - helped to relieve the pressure at Verdun
  • The bombardment strategy was not ineffective in principle - as revealed by the second, successful, artillery bombardment
  • An inexperienced British army leared to fight the new type of war
  • It has some attritional effect - the Germans with fewer men could less afford he losses their forces sustained
  • It sped up the process of creation - e.g. in 1916 there were still far too few of the really heavy calibre guns and howitzers so eventually Haig produced the most sophisticated and massive artillery corps that was to crack the German lines
  • Also the creation of tanks, first used on 15th September - not only did it employ surprise from the Germans but it also had enormous local successes with an advance of 3,500 yards achieved
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The Battle of the Somme was of high importance

  • A chance to test out different ideas to see which could potentially be successful and help win the war - the Royal Flying Corps had rapidly expanded and achieved superiority over the German air-force during the Somme battle
  • Some historians view the overall conflict in a positive light for the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) as it helped it to gain experience and improve its tactics
  • The Somme is viewed as "an essential precondition to success in the last two years of the war" by Gary Sheffield
  • Haig was praised by US General Pershing as 'the man who won the war'.
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The Battle of the Somme was NOT of high importance

  • It was apparent that Britain's New Armies would have to shoulder a major role as Russia had suffered huge losses of life and territory but it still didn't relieve pressure on Russia (whatever Haig boasted!)
  • Germans were pushed back at the cost of 420,000 British and 200,000 French Casualties as top-level military strategy failed the ordinary soldiers - 'lions led by donkeys' - belief that battles such as the Somme showed brace soldiers dying because of incompetent leadership
  • The first day of the Somme is remembered as "the worst day in British history". At the end of the day the casualties reached nearly 60,000 with 19,240 dead. Partly because the first bombardment failed because of ineffectual munitions and the flawed strategy of bombardment over a wide area
  • Even though new technology was developed such as tanks, it was not used effectively and neither was the cavalry. British used 36 tanks for the first time in the war. (Virtually all of them broke down), even though the engineers advised Haig not to use tanks yet, he still ordered Rawlinson to write it into the plan so the effect of surprise was wasted as even though the Germans were surprised, at 2 miles per hour they were not as yet 'war winning' weapons
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The Battle of the Somme was NOT of high importance

  • Most of the German defences were untouched by the initial bombardment because:

1. the attack was over a wide area, meaning the bombardment was dispersed

2. German troops were sheltered in deep bunkers that only high-explosive shells could destory,         30% of shells failed to explode

3. The barbed wire could only be cut by high-explosive shells but not enough of them were fired

4. Only 200 of the 1500 guns fired were heavy artillery

  • The immediate response from the Germans who survived it does sometimes contrast with the standard view of the battle as pointless slaughter
  • Haig continued to pound away, to little purpose, until 19th November when the Somme offensive was finally called off. Germans incurred 465,000 casualties. After more than 4 months of fighting the Allies had advanced no further than 7 miles
  • It took a lot of lives not just from the British and French armies but from the German army, speaking of the Somme as the graveyard of the army from 1914.
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