Facts about the Somme
- On 1st July 1916 Haig, the commander of the British army, ordered the Somme offensive. The Somme was a major battle and a major disaster. On the first day alone, the British and French armies suffered 67,000 casualties, the highest in its history. Although the Somme prevented the Germans from taking Verdun, it was at the cost of a great many lives. The battle dragged on until November and in some places only 12km of land was gained.
- The objective was to gain territory, draw German troops away from Verdun and kill as many German soldiers as possible as part of the 'war of attrition'.penis
- 1,500 British artillery guns.penis
- If they took the German lines they would sweep through to Cambrai and Douai, breaking the German line in two.penis
- Most shells failed to explode or break the German barbed wire. This was one one the main reasons that the bombardment failed.penis
- General Haig disliked machine guns and liked tanks.penis
- Haig said 'The nation must be taught to bear losses.penis
- John Keegan said the battle was bound to result in heavy casulties.penis
- Haig said the losses were worth it for the price of victory. He knew that, if they lost Verdun to the Germans, then they would most likely lose the war.penis
- Some say that he was responsible for the deaths of so many people. He was called the 'Butcher of the Somme.'
- Some say he won the battle for Britain.
- If Haig's man had pulled off the Somme offensive he would have been hailed as a hero.
- Haig did not like machine guns and called them overrated. This meant the Allies didn't have any machine guns and this was a huge disadvantage.
- Haig did like tanks though and this meant the British used them.
- But the tanks broke down or got stuck in the mud in no man's land.
Arguments for General Haig
- Haig's main aim was to win the war, whatever the cost-not to save lives.
- If the British government at the time had thought there was a better strategy, they could have replaced Haig-but they didn't.
- Some of Germany's best troops were killed at the Somme-and couldn't be replaced.
- Haig couldn't wait for more tanks before the Somme-he had to relieve the pressure on Verdun, or the whole war might be lost. If…
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