The Battle of the Somme

April 9, 2012 | | Comments Off on The Battle of the Somme

Map of the battle:

The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest, and most indecisive battles WWI. The intent of the campaign was two fold. The first intent was simply to act as a campaign of attrition. The British and French intended to sap German resources, and gain territory. The second intent was to take German forces away from Verdun. The Battle at Verdun was proving to be quite difficult for the Allies. Because of this, the Somme campaign was intended to take German troops away from that front, and require them to be diverted to the Somme.

The battle went as follows: the British opened the battle with an eight day bombardment of the German lines. This attack was expected to have totally knocked out all German defenses in the area. However, this attack would fail to destroy German defenses. Much of the barbed wire, and bunkers that the Germans had built to defend the area still existed. This attack also caused the Allies to lose the element of surprise. Therefore, when the attack actually began, the Germans were more then prepared for the assault. The British and French troops would end up being forced back into their trenches through effective German machine gun fire. Because the British had expected for their to be very little opposition awaiting them, they were very easy targets for the machine gunners. They were often heavily laden with supplies, and could be very easily picked off. The British would end up taking 58,000 in casualties during the first day alone.

The rest of the battle was not terribly much different, for either side. The Germans would stand their ground at every turn they could. But, despite this fact, the British and French forces made slow progress. In the end, poor winter weather would end up bring the advance to a dead stop.

Total casualties for the battle:

British: 420,000

French: 200,000

German: 500,000


-Chris Macko


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