Slag van die Somme

Slag van die Somme


Die masjiengeweer maak sy debuut

Die masjiengeweer wat met koue doeltreffendheid doodgemaak is, en nie infanterie of kavallerie wat in die openbaar teen 'n goed geplaasde wapen van hierdie tipe gevorder het, het 'n groot kans om te oorleef. Onder andere die Duitse Maxim-, Britse Vickers- en Franse Hotchkiss -masjiengewere was in staat om 'n dodelike stroom koeëls teen 'n snelheid van tot 600 rondtes per minuut uit te spuit. Om 'n versterkte masjiengeweer se posisie stil te maak, verg tyd, moeite en dikwels baie lewens.

Alhoewel Haig die dodelikheid van die masjiengeweer begin begryp het en kennis geneem het van die lewenskoste wat die wapen op die Somme -rivier eis, het hy hardnekkig beveel dat frontale aanvalle moet voortgaan en duisende soldate na hul dood gestuur tydens vier maande se erge geveg . Hele infanteriekompagnieë is feitlik uitgewis, en 1 Julie 1916 bly die duurste dag in die geskiedenis van die Britse leër, aangesien byna 60 000 mans dood of gewond is tydens heroïese, maar futiele opmars teen die goed gevestigde vyand.

In die Slag van die Somme het Britse en Franse bevelvoerders die harde les geleer dat die bevordering van tegnologie die aard van gevegte verander het, en hulle het betaal vir die ervaring met hul mans se lewens. Die tragedie van die Somme word vandag met eerbied onthou met die oog op skynbaar eindelose rye - die grafte van diegene wat 'n eeu gelede op 'n nuwe, verskriklik moderne slagveld gesterf het. Blote moed was nie meer genoeg om die oorwinning te verseker nie.


Historikus Gary Sheffield vernietig ses Battle of the Somme -mites

Een van die land se voorste geskiedskrywers in die wêreldoorlog het probeer om die gewilde persepsies van die Slag om die Somme voor die 100ste herdenking van die geveg uit te daag.

Een van die voorste wêreldoorloggeskiedkundiges in die land en rsquos het probeer om mense se gewilde persepsies van die Slag van die Somme voor die 100ste herdenking van die geveg uit te daag. Moenie ons kundige geskiedenis oor Culloden -mites misloop deur professor Murray Pittock nie.

Gary Sheffield is professor in oorlogstudies aan die Universiteit van Wolverhampton en is die akademiese adviseur van die regering en herdenkings oor die Eerste Wêreldoorlog, wat op 1 Julie 1916 begin het.

Professor Sheffield, wat die Universiteit & rsquos Eerste Wêreldoorlog -navorsingsgroep lei, het gesê dat sommige van die belangrikste gewilde verhale oor die oorlog verkeerd was, en ondanks die algemene opvatting dat die Slag 'n groot nederlaag vir die Geallieerdes was, was dit eintlik 'n strategiese sukses.

Hy het gesê: "Oor die algemeen was die Somme 'n vreeslike en gruwelike menslike ervaring, maar dit was nie nutteloos nie, soos dit dikwels uitgebeeld word. Die weermag het groot verliese gely maar dit was baie belangrik om die uitkoms van die oorlog te bepaal.

Dit was 'n menslike tragedie, maar dit was nie tevergeefs nie en dit was 'n sprong tot 'n oorwinning in 1918.

SLAAG VAN DIE ENKELE MITE

1. Die Somme was nie 'n eendaggeveg nie - dit het 141 dae geduur. Daar is groot fokus op 1 Julie, wat belangrik was, maar ons moet nie vergeet wat daarna gekom het nie.

Dit is 'n ikoniese dag wat op baie maniere 'n simbool van alles is wat nutteloos is oor die Eerste Wêreldoorlog.

2. Mense dink dat dit die eerste groot geveg was waarby Kitchener & rsquos Army betrokke was en dat elke soldaat in 'n Pals Bataljon was (eenhede gevorm uit plaaslike dorpe, dorpe of stede). Dit was & rsquot. Hulle was in 1915 in aksie by Gallipoli en in dieselfde jaar ook by Loos.

Daar was 'n aansienlike aantal vriende en soortgelyke lokaal grootgemaakte bataljons vanaf plekke soos Accrington en Liverpool, maar die regering het dieselfde aantal getalle gekry.

In 1914 was die grootte van die leër so groot dat die regering kon nie al die rekrute hanteer nie so onderkontrakteer aan plaaslike owerhede, groot grondeienaars en boedels om privaat leërs effektief vir die Kroon te werf.

Sommige eenhede met 'n & lsquoPals & rsquo -karakter beskou hulself eintlik nie so nie. Die territoriale mag word dikwels by die Somme oor die hoof gesien, aangesien dit saam met gereelde soldate 'n groot teenwoordigheid gehad het. Die PALS het beslis hul rol gespeel, maar was deel van 'n groter prentjie

3. 1 Julie was 'n totale ramp & ndash Daar was 60,000 Britse slagoffers op die eerste dag, met 20,000 dood. Dit was 'n baie bloedige dag en deur baie word dit as 'n mislukking voorgehou. Maar daar was beduidende sukses vir die Britte en die Franse op die dag in die suidelike deel van die Somme. Grond is verkry en daar was 'n geleentheid om die oorwinning uit die bek van die nederlaag te haal, maar Rawlinson, die bevelvoerder van die Vierde Leër, wat die veldtog in die suide gelei het, wou nie voordeel trek nie.

As die Britte op daardie stadium drie tot vier myl sou gevorder het, sou die Slag van die Somme 'n heel ander uitkoms kon hê en sou 1 Julie 1916 as 'n aansienlike sukses beskou word.

4. Die Slag van die Somme was 'n skandelike Britse nederlaag & ndash sommige historici het dit beskryf as 'n & ldquo -bloedige oorwinning & rdquo. Ek sou nie so ver as dit gaan nie, maar ek sou die stryd as 'n strategiese sukses vir die Geallieerdes noem in die vollediger prentjie van die Eerste Wêreldoorlog. .

5. Die Somme en die Eerste Wêreldoorlog was tevergeefs 'n Gewilde verhaal was dat die geveg en op baie maniere die oorlog in sy geheel nie die moeite werd was nie. Al die bewyse dui egter op die teenoorgestelde. Duitsland was magtig en militaristies en het 'n groot bedreiging vir die Britse en keiserlike veiligheid ingehou. Mense het destyds die erns van die bedreiging erken. So erg as wat die oorlog was, word 'n Duitse oorwinning as vreesliker beskou.

6. Haig was 'n mislukking Ek sê nie dat hy die grootste militêre leier ooit was nie, maar hy verdien krediet vir sy suksesse sowel as die verantwoordelikheid vir sy foute. Hy het 'n kritieke rol gespeel in die transformasie van die onervare, swak opgeleide leër van Julie 1916 in die oorlogswinnende mag van 1918. Haig het foute gemaak by die Somme, maar hy het 'n groot rol gespeel in die oorwinning in 1918.

Professor Sheffield neem aan 'n reeks geleenthede deel om die begin van die Slag van die Somme, insluitend 'n aandwaak by Westminster Abbey op Donderdag 30 Junie, wat deur die koningin en die hertog van Edinburgh bygewoon word.

Hy sal ook toesprake en lesings lewer tydens 'n amptelike tweedaagse geleentheid op 1 en 2 Julie in Manchester & rsquos Heaton Park as deel van die Experience Field.


Redaksionele resensies

Resensie

Die Slag van die Somme voeg 'n menslike aanslag by hierdie verwoestende veldtog — 'n goeie boek deur een wat volgens baie die grootste lewende oorlogsskrywer is. ”
Ottawa Sun

Gilbert het boeiende besonderhede van die veldtog opgegrawe. . . . 'N Onvergeetlike lees. ”
Philadelphia Navraer

'N Steeds verstommende werk wat as 'n waardige herinnering dien. ”
New York Post

“ Uitstekend geskryf. . . 'n gepaste herdenking van die tragedie. ”
Uitgewers Weekliks

Oor die skrywer

Martin Gilbert, die skrywer van meer as sewentig boeke, is die amptelike biograaf van Winston Churchill en 'n toonaangewende historikus van die moderne wêreld. In 1995 is hy tot ridder geslaan vir dienste aan die Britse geskiedenis en internasionale betrekkinge, en in 1999 word hy deur die Universiteit van Oxford met 'n doktorsgraad in letterkunde bekroon vir die totale van sy gepubliseerde werk. As 'n Britse skoolseun is hy na Kanada gestuur om die jare van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog veilig uit te leef. Hy verdeel nou sy tyd tussen Londen, Ontario en Londen, Engeland.

Uit die hardeband -uitgawe.

Uittreksel. & kopie Herdruk met toestemming. Alle regte voorbehou.

Daar was 'n Dominion -mag wat op 1 Julie op die Somme geveg het, die 1ste Bataljon, Newfoundland Regiment, wat deel was van die tweede golf aanvallers teen die dorpie Beaumont Hamel. Omdat hul eie loopbane in die voorste linie verstop was met lyke en puin van die eerste aanval, en omdat die opmars van die Essex-regiment aan sy regterflank vertraag is omdat die loopgrawe voor hulle ook verstop was met die dooies van die eerste golf van aanvallers, moes die Newfoundlanders sonder 'n flankondersteuning 750 meter se voorkant oorsteek. Baie is dood toe hulle uit hul loopgrawe klim. Min het selfs die lyn van hul eie doringdraad bereik, wat 250 meter verder as hul beginpunt was.

Die Newfoundlanders wat hul eie draad bereik het-altesaam vier goed gelegde gordels-moes die zigzagbane volg tussen voorgesnyde, gemerkte gapings, wat presies deur die Duitse masjienbrekers vasgestel is. Diegene wat daarin geslaag het om deur hierdie gapings in die draad te kom, het ontdek dat daar minstens 500 meter oop grond tussen hulle en die eerste lyn van die Duitse verdediging lê. Die oop grond lê op 'n voorwaartse helling, blootgestel aan Duitse vuur vanuit hul posisies op die heuwel. Naby 'n spesifieke boom halfpad af met die helling, bekend onder die Newfoundlanders as ‘The Danger Tree ’, was die Duitse dopvuur besonder akkuraat en noodlottig. Vandag dien die oorblyfsels van die boom as 'n duidelike gedenkteken vir diegene wat daardeur vermoor is.

Sommige van die Newfoundlanders kon naby genoeg aan die Duitse lyn kom om hul handbomme in die loopgrawe van die vyand te gooi, maar die meeste is lank voor die tyd neergeslaan. Die amptelike historikus in Newfoundland skryf: Waar twee mans langs mekaar gevorder het, was daar skielik net een - en 'n paar tree verder sou hy ook op sy gesig vorentoe gaan. 'N Jong subalterne kyk tevergeefs om hom dat mans kan lei. Uittartend swaai hy met sy veldtelefoon na die Duitse loopgrawe en sit dan sy kop neer op aanklagte van sy dood. Die voorste man van 'n paar wat 'n brug van tien voet dra, word getref, en terwyl hy val, neem hy 'n brug en 'n maat saam met hom. Sonder om te aarsel staan ​​die laaste op, hys die brug op sy kop en beur grimmig vorentoe totdat 'n masjiengeweerkoeël hom afkap. ’

Die paar Newfoundlanders wat die Duitse draad bereik het, is neergeskiet toe hulle met hul draadsnyers daardeur wou sny. Teen tienuur die oggend is elke offisier wat minder as 'n uur en 'n half vroeër in die stryd getree het, dood of gewond.

'N Britse soldaat, privaat Byrne, wat in die teksgolf van aanvallers was, herinner aan sy eerste gesig van sy voorgangers: ‘Voor my was twee Newfoundland-ouens en#8212 een aan die linkerkant het goed voor die Duitser gelê draad en die ander, ongeveer vyf-en-twintig jaar aan sy regterkant, is oor die Duitse draad self gesprei. Hulle was redelik dood, daar was geen twyfel nie. ’

Van die 810 Newfoundlanders wat die oggend in aksie was, is 310 dood en meer as 350 gewond. Slegs agt en sestig het ernstige beserings vrygespring. Kaptein Eric Ayre was een van die vier lede van sy gesin wat op 1 Julie vermoor is, waaronder sy enigste broer, kaptein Bernard Ayre, wat by die Norfolk Regiment naby Maricourt gedien het, aan die ander kant van die vierde weermagfront. Eric Ayre, sewe en twintig jaar oud, word begrawe in die Ancre-begraafplaas. Sy broer, vier en twintig jaar oud, word begrawe in Carnoy.

Gedurende die middag, op die Beaumont Hamel -sektor soos elders, het gewonde mans wat na No Man's Land teruggekruip het na hul eie lyne, nie geweet dat hul blikdriehoeke, wat bedoel was om hul eie artillerie te identifiseer tydens die opmars, flits nie voortdurend terwyl hulle pynlik oor die oop grond beweeg, wat hul posisie aan die Duitse skerpskutters en masjiengeweerders aandui. Die Regiment se twintig draagbaars het die hele dag onder vuur gewerk om gewonde mans terug te bring. Toe hulle luitenant Bert Dicks in 'n sloot steek en bereid was om hom op 'n draagbaar te sit, het hy aangedring: ‘ Neem diegene wat 'n groter behoefte het, ek kan dit uitsteek, en hy het. Baie van die Newfoundlanders wat die veiligheid van hul eie lyne bereik het, het net een vraag: ‘ Is die kolonel tevrede? Is die kolonel tevrede? ’

Toe die stryd om die bevelvoerder van die 29ste Divisie was, het generaal de Lisle die premier van Newfoundland ingelig: 'Dit was 'n wonderlike vertoning van opgeleide en gedissiplineerde dapperheid, en die aanranding het net misluk, want dooie mans kan geen verder. ’


Die Somme: 'n oefening in nutteloosheid?

Die eerste dag van die Somme het sinoniem geword met onbevoegde leierskap en 'n gevoelige minagting van die menslike lewe. Gary Sheffield bied 'n meer komplekse beeld van die geveg en die rol wat generaal Sir Douglas Haig speel.

Die Slag van die Somme, of ten minste die openingsdag, is so 'n berugte gebeurtenis dat dit moeilik is om dit objektief te beoordeel. Op die eerste dag van die offensief, 1 Julie 1916, het die British Expeditionary Force (BEF) 57 000 slagoffers gely, waarvan 19 000 dood is. Dit was maar net die begin van 'n vier maande lange stryd, wat moontlik tot 1,2 miljoen Britse, Franse en Duitse slagoffers tot gevolg gehad het. Die Geallieerdes het maksimum sewe myl gevorder. Arras en Passchendaele het in 1917 gevolg, gevegte wat ook nie deur die Duitse loopgrawe kon breek nie, maar wat enorme verliese veroorsaak het.

Om voort te gaan met die lees van hierdie artikel, moet u toegang tot die aanlyn -argief verkry.

As u reeds toegang gekoop het, of as u 'n druk- en argief -intekenaar is, moet u dit verseker aangemeld.


8 dinge wat u (waarskynlik) nie geweet het van die Slag van die Somme nie

Een van die bloedigste botsings van die Eerste Wêreldoorlog, die vyf maande lange slag by die Somme-wat tussen Julie en November 1916 plaasgevind het-het die lewe van meer as 127 000 Britse soldate geëis, met meer as 57 000 Britse slagoffers op die eerste dag alleen . Hier is agt feite oor die verwoestende stryd ...

Hierdie kompetisie is nou gesluit

Gepubliseer: 16 November 2018 om 09:30

Skryf vir Ekstra geskiedenis, Onthul Anthony Richards, hoof van dokumente en klank by Imperial War Museums (IWM), agt minder bekende feite oor een van Brittanje se bekendste gevegte ...

Die Slag van die Somme was 'n Anglo-Franse veldtog

Alhoewel die someroffensief van 1916 'n Anglo-Franse samewerkingsaanval sou wees, het die Franse die dominante vennoot gebly met meer manne in die veld en waarskynlik 'n groter aandeel in die oorlog: vir hulle was dit immers 'n kwessie van bevryding van hul eie grond as sowel as om die breër kwessie van Duitse aggressie aan te spreek. Dit sou dus die Franse opperbevelhebber, generaal Joffre, wees wat die algehele rigting van die veldtog sou beheer.

Picardië was die gebied wat gekies is vir die aanval, in die sektor waar die Franse en Britse leërs aan weerskante van die rivier Somme aangrensend was. Die Franse sou 'n aanval suid van die rivier begin, terwyl die Britte in die noorde sou aanval, albei leërs deel 'n groot gevegsfront wat aanvanklik bedoel was om ongeveer 60 myl te strek. In die Somme -sektor het nog geen groot offensief plaasgevind nie en die omliggende grond het dus ontsnap aan die grootskaalse verwoesting wat ander dele van Frankryk en België gely het.

Een van die voordele vir Joffre van 'n gesamentlike Anglo-Franse offensief was dat hy kon verseker dat albei leërs vasbeslote bly oor die algehele militêre agenda en dat daar nie uitgestel word nie. Haig, sowel as baie van die ander Britse bevelvoerders, het eintlik 'n offensief in België bevoordeel sodat die strategies belangrike kuslyn bevry en beheer kon word. Die behoud van die bondgenootskap van Brittanje met die Franse was egter van deurslaggewende belang as daar 'n langtermynsukses teen Duitsland sou wees.

Maar in die geval sou Joffre nóg Haig die belangrikste besluit voor die stryd wees. Die agenda is uiteindelik deur die Duitsers beheer, toe hulle op 21 Februarie 1916 'n groot aanval op die Franse vestingstad Verdun geloods het.

Dit was nooit die doel om die oorlog te voltooi nie

Die onverwagse Duitse aanval op Verdun [in Februarie 1916] en gevolglike dreinering op Franse hulpbronne het beteken dat die Britse rol nou die meer dominante rol in die Anglo-Franse plan sou wees. Miskien was daar ongewoon geen groot strategiese doelwitte vir die geveg nie, hoewel Haig se voornemens vir die offensief duidelik was.

My beleid is kortliks om: 1. my afdelings op te lei, en om soveel ammunisie en soveel as moontlik wapens in te samel. 2. Om reëlings te tref om die Franse ... aanval te ondersteun om die druk van Verdun af te trek, as die Franse in ag neem die militêre situasie dit vereis. 3. Maar, terwyl ons aanval om ons bondgenote te help, nie om te dink dat ons hierdie jaar sekerlik die mag van Duitsland kan vernietig nie. In ons aanvalle moet ons dus ook ons ​​posisies verbeter om volgende jaar die resultaat van die veldtog te verseker.

Die Somme was dus nooit bedoel as 'die stryd om die oorlog te beëindig' nie, maar eerder as 'n offensief om die Britte en Franse teen 'n beter posisie teen die einde van 1916 te plaas. is deur almal verwag en ongetwyfeld bedoel om 'n beslissende aksie te wees in die loop van die konflik, is dit belangrik om te onthou dat die stryd om die Somme altyd vir die Britse en Franse hoë bevele 'n stap was na die einde van die oorlog eerder as 'n definitiewe gevolgtrekking daarvan.

Die datum van die aanval is baie gedebatteer

Terwyl Sir Douglas Haig en sy personeel nou gevestig is in hul algemene hoofkwartier in die kasteel in Montreuil, het 'n vergadering op 26 Mei die datum van die Somme -aanval gefinaliseer. Joffre het daarop aangedring dat 1 Julie die absolute jongste dag moet wees vir die aanval, aangesien die Franse onder die voortgesette Duitse aanval op Verdun gely het en die druk op hulle dringend elders moes aflei. Terwyl Haig probeer het om te argumenteer vir 'n latere datum in Augustus, om die Britte meer tyd in staat te stel om hulself voor te berei op so 'n groot aanval, was dit onrealisties as dit die onmiddellike behoefte was om die Franse te ondersteun. Daar is dus besluit op 'n kompromie van Donderdag 29 Junie.

Aangesien artillerie -bombardemente die sleutel tot sukses in enige offensief bly, is die gebruik van vliegtuie en waarnemingsballonne om dit te lei as van kardinale belang beskou. Hierdie samewerking was egter baie ontwikkelende vaardigheid, en die Somme sou 'n vuurdoop wees vir beide die Royal Flying Corps en artillerie. Tot die laaste dae van Junie is bomaanvalle georganiseer om agterste gebiede agter die Duitse lyne te tref wat selfs deur die langste Britse gewere nie bereik kon word nie. Verslegtende weer teen die einde van die maand het beteken dat bombardemente en waarnemingswerk deur die RFC belemmer is, wat weer die akkuraatheid van die artillerieversperring beïnvloed het. Dit het daartoe gelei dat die datum van die belangrikste infanterie -aanval effens teruggestel is tot Saterdag 1 Julie.

Die infanterie -aanval is voorafgegaan deur die ontploffing van myne

Minute voor Zero Hour [7.30vm] op 1 Julie, is myne wat die afgelope paar weke deeglik deur die Royal Engineer -tonnelondernemings voorberei is, ontplof. Britse tonnels was besig om sulke myne diep te grawe onder die Duitse verdediging, wat op die vasgestelde uur vol ammonale plofstof was vir ontploffing. Geheimhouding in sulke operasies was noodsaaklik, want die Duitsers kon hoor hoe hulle hul eie myne naby hulle grawe, en die element van verrassing moes ten alle koste gehandhaaf word.

Om 07.20 uur is die myn van 40,600 pond onder Hawthorn Ridge in die noordelike sektor tussen Beaumont-Hamel en Serre afgevuur, terwyl agt minute later ontplof is naby La Boisselle (die Lochnagar van 60 000 pond en 'Y Sap' myne), oorkant Fricourt (die Triple Tambour -myn), en tussen Mametz en Montauban (die Casino Point -myn).

Ondanks die indrukwekkende skouspel wat hulle opgelewer het, het die ontploffings egter min praktiese voordeel gebied. Hulle effek was te gelokaliseer, met Duitse masjiengewere en artillerie in die omliggende gebiede wat vinnig ingeskuif is om die defensiewe leemtes te vul. Inderdaad, in die geval van die Hawthorn Ridge -ontploffing, wat vermoedelik 10 minute voor die infanterie -aanval sou ontplof, het die Duitsers 'n duidelike waarskuwing gekry oor die dreigende aanval, sodat hulle gereed was om hul aanvallers te ontmoet.

Baie Britse infanterie het geveg

7:30 op 1 Julie 1916 is gekenmerk deur die geluid van fluitjies wat deur Britse offisiere langs die voorste linie geblaas word, wat die begin van die infanterie -aanval aandui. Die soldate kom uit hul loopgrawe, klim oor die borstwering en begin vorder, die Britse artillerie het die omvang van hul gewere uitgebrei om op die Duitse reservelyne te konsentreer.

Volgens die bevele van die weermag moet die manne in lang rye, twee of drie meter van mekaar af, teen 'n bestendige tempo beweeg. Baie senior bevelvoerders het geglo dat die onervare nuwe vrywillige soldate nie meer gesofistikeerde taktiek sou kon hanteer nie, terwyl so 'n streng formasie sou verseker dat hulle op die regte tyd by die Duitse lyn kom. Daar was geen haas nodig nie, aangesien die Duitse verdediging na verwagting reeds deur die artillerie -bombardement vernietig was.

Elke honderd meter of meer het golwe mans gevolg, met die doel om blokkasies te help oorkom voordat die doelwitte gekonsolideer word. Hierdie plan is hoofsaaklik gevolg ondanks 'n paar plaaslike variasies in gebiede aan die front, waar meer ervare offisiere gekies het om 'n meer mobiele vorm van aanval aan te neem.

1 Julie 1916 was die rampspoedigste dag in die geskiedenis van die Britse leër

In die loop van 1 Julie 1916 is 57.470 Britse slagoffers opgedoen, bestaande uit 35.493 gewondes en 19.240 dood. Die slagoffers was groot in alle eenhede, maar sommige bataljons is byna vernietig: die 10de bataljon van die West Yorkshire Regiment alleen het meer as 700 man uit alle geledere verloor. Duitse teenaanvalle gedurende die middag het die verlore terrein noord van die Albert – Bapaume -pad herower. Net in die suide was die resultate ietwat meer suksesvol, met aanvalle op die dorpe Fricourt en Mametz.

Alhoewel dit maklik sou wees om die Britse aanvallers te kritiseer, wat in baie gevalle nie ervaring en opleiding gehad het nie, was onvoldoende artillerie ook 'n faktor. Alhoewel skulpe nou in groot getalle aan die voorkant gelewer is, was hulle uiters veranderlik van gehalte, met baie wat wankel tydens die vlug en ander nie daarin kon slaag om te ontplof nie. Sommige historici het ook die 66 pond kit wat deur baie van die Britse troepe gedra is, beklemtoon, wat hulle swaar gemaak het, wat hul spoed en mobiliteit beïnvloed het. Sommige eenhede het egter gekies om onnodige toerusting weg te gooi voordat hulle aanval, gebaseer op die ervaring en gesonde verstand van individuele offisiere.

Maar die belangrikste faktor was die merkwaardige sterkte van die Duitse verdediging. Die Duitsers het aansienlike vordering gemaak met die ontwerp en bou van bunkers en sterkpunte wat hulle tydens die Britse bombardement beskerm het. Nadat die spervuur ​​opgehef is, het beide mans en gewere na vore gekom om hul aanvallers te verwoes.

Die onmiddellike deurbraak waarop Haig gehoop het, is nie bereik nie, maar ondanks die vreeslike slagting aan die linkerkant van die lyn, is daar 'n paar vordering gemaak na regs sowel as in die Franse sektor verder na die suide. Die geveg sou die komende maande voortduur, maar eerder as 'n meer verspringende aanval wat mettertyd 'n uitputtingsoorlog sou word.

Die Somme het die eerste keer gepantserde tenks gebruik

Van vroeg in die oorlog was daar 'n duidelike behoefte aan 'n gepantserde motor om die ongelyke grond van 'n niemandsland oor te steek, oor doringdraad te ry en sterkpunte aan te val met die wapens aan boord. In Februarie 1915 is 'n komitee vir admiraliteitslandskappe ingestel om die aanvanklike prototipes te bou. Die gepantserde voertuie is gou tydens die produksie as 'tenks' gedoop, wat hul aanvanklike ooreenkoms met staalwatertenks weerspieël, maar veral om geheimhouding te handhaaf oor hul uiteindelike doel.

Oorspronklik bedoel om die aanval op 1 Julie te lei, het vertragings in die produksie beteken dat daar eers in September 'n geskikte aantal voertuie voorsien kon word, en dit sou slegs 'n redelik beperkte 49 wees. posisies vir die slag van Flers-Courcelette op 15 September, waarin hulle doelwit sou wees om voor die aanvallende infanterie te gaan en te help om geïdentifiseerde sterkpunte te onderdruk.

Die infanterie vorder agter 'n kruipende spervuur, met tenks wat hulle in die geveg vergesel het. Net meer as die helfte van die aantal tenks wat as deel van die groot opmars in niemandsland ingeloop het, het daarin geslaag om die Duitse linies te bereik, hoewel baie hiervan sukses behaal het om die weerstand van die doringdraad te verbrysel, die Britse infanterie te beskerm en, veral, 'n hupstoot te gee. die moreel van die aanvallers, terwyl onsekerheid onder die Duitse verdediging ontstaan ​​het.

Maar hulle was uiters onbetroubaar, het aanhoudend onderbreek, en hulle was te traag om regtig aanvalle aan te voer, terwyl hul spanne nie opleiding en ervaring gehad het nie. Artillerie is nog steeds beskou as die deurslaggewende faktor in enige aanval, met die tenk bloot 'n nuwe nuwigheid om in te pas waar dit kan. Ondanks hul beperkings was Haig egter beïndruk met die nuwe voertuie, en die produksie van tenks op groot skaal sou in Januarie 1917 begin.

Finale ongevalle -syfers

Die lewenskoste as gevolg van die Slag van die Somme was enorm. Alhoewel 1 Julie 1916 in die geskiedenis opgeneem is as die ergste dag vir die Britse leër in terme van die aantal ongevalle en die beperkte doelwitte wat bereik is, was dit die voortgesette stryd gedurende die daaropvolgende vyf maande wat nie vergeet moet word nie. Gedurende die hele veldtog was die getalle van ongevalle verbysterend: die getalle vir Duitse ongevalle op die Somme wissel, maar tussen 500 000 en 600 000 soldate is dood, vermis of gevange geneem. Die Franse het 204,253 totale slagoffers gely, en die Britte 419,654. Van hierdie aantal sterf ongeveer 127,751 Britse soldate tussen 1 Julie en 20 November 1916, gemiddeld 893 per dag.

Oor die afgelope eeu is die slag van die Somme deur baie in Brittanje en haar voormalige ryk beskou as 'n simbool van die slag van die Eerste Wêreldoorlog, veral met die eerste dag as 'n vreeslike hoogtepunt vir ongevalle, maar in werklikheid het die Franse baie erger verduur het. Byvoorbeeld, op 22 Augustus 1914 het hulle 27 000 doodgemaak op 'n enkele dag, terwyl die voortgesette uitputtingsoorlog in Verdun hul eie nasionale sinoniem vir bloedvergieting en opoffering geskep het. Die Duitse weermag het die meeste slagoffers gely, wat weerspieël miskien die vasberadenheid wat die verdedigers getoon het om hul posisies in die lig van so 'n aanval te beklee.

Maar die ongelooflike opoffering wat Britse soldate gemaak het, het die voortgesette rol van die Somme in die gesamentlike geheue van die land verseker.

Anthony Richards is hoof van dokumente en klank by Imperial War Museums (IWM) en skrywer van die IWM se nuwe boek Die Somme: 'n Visuele geskiedenis, wat nou uit is. Van foto's tot kunswerke, film tot plakkate, hierdie nuwe boek ondersoek die slag van die Somme deur die uitgebreide IWM -versamelings.

Hierdie artikel is die eerste keer gepubliseer deur History Extra in Junie 2016


Die Slag van die Somme

. "Die Slag van die Somme was 'n totale mislukking" Hoe ver ondersteun Bronne A-F hierdie stelling? Op 1 Julie 1916 begin die Slag van die Somme. Bronne A, D, E en F dui aan dat die Slag van The Somme nie 'n totale mislukking was nie. Bronne B en C dui egter aan dat die Britte die Duitsers onderskat het en dit was die oorsaak daarvan.

Die Slag van die Somme

. Die Slag van die Somme In Februarie 1916, na 'n jaar van dooiepunt, besluit die Duitsers om Frankryk aan te val en strategiese Franse forte in die omgewing van Verdun, 15 myl wes van Parys, te verower. Hulle was daarop gemik om 'Frankryk wit te laat bloei' met die uitputtaktiek wat deur hul bevelvoerder, Falkenhayn, ontwikkel is. In 'n poging om die Duitsers van Verdun weg te dwing.

Die Slag van Somme

. Die slag van die Somme begin in die somer van 1916. Die Britte het hul kans gesien om goed te lyk en die redder van die oomblik te wees. Dit het egter nie gebeur nie. 'N Slootnetwerk van vier honderd en vyftig myl, wat van die Switserse grens tot in België strek, is oopgemaak en die geveg het werklik begin. Die geveg versleg gou in t.

Slag van die Somme

. Die slag van die Somme het op 1 Julie 1916 begin en omstreeks 18 November geëindig. Die geveg was in Picardië. Die Slag van die Somme was deel van die 'War of Attrition' fase van die Eerste Wêreldoorlog. Op 3 Augustus 1914 val Duitsland België binne. Die volgende dag verklaar Brittanje oorlog, en die Britse ekspedisiemag (BEF) is na Frankryk. F.

Beskrywings van die gevegte van Verdun en Somme

. Beskrywings van die gevegte van Verdun en Somme Die Slag van Verdun in 1916 was die langste slag van die Eerste Wêreldoorlog, wat baie slagoffers opgelewer het en die katalisator was vir die Britte wat die Slag van die Somme in Julie 1916 begin het. Die doel van die Slag van Somme sou help om die druk op die Britte te verlig dat die Duitsers bye gehad het.

Slag van Somme Sukses of Failiur

. Was die Slag van die Somme 'n sukses of mislukking? Dit is 'n vraag wat deur die jare heen by baie historici gepla is. Aan die een kant kon die oorlog 'n heel ander uitkoms gehad het sonder die geveg, maar aan die ander kant, was dit werklik die moeite werd om al die slagting en bloedvergieting te verdien? In 1916 is generaal sir Douglas Haig toevallig afgedwing.

Slag van die Somme en Bron

. in Bronne 1 en 2 dat die Slag van die Somme die doelwitte bereik het? Nadat ons al 3 bronne ontleed het, kan gesê word dat bron 3 bronne 1 en 2 aansienlik uitdaag en 'n heeltemal ander perspektief op die Somme -stryd gee. Bron 1 is 'n uittreksel uit die laaste versending van Sir Douglas Haig, wat op 19 Maart gepubliseer is.

Waarom het die Slag van die Somme so verloop B

. Waarom het die Slag van die Somme vir die Britse leër so sleg gegaan? Die Slag van die Somme het gedurende 1916 plaasgevind om druk op die Franse by Verdun en die Russe aan die Oosfront te neem. Die Franse was onder groot vuur by Verdun en was sedert Februarie, en die weermag self was naby aan krake. Die Russe het dapper geveg.


Die Slag van die Somme

Digitaal gerestoureerde weergawe met die keuse van drie klankbane in 5.1 en stereo: nuut -opdrag orkestpartituur herskeping van oorspronklike aanbevole medley -kommentaar deur Keeper of I. Lees alles Digitaal gerestoureerde weergawe met die keuse van drie klankbane in 5.1 en stereo: nuut -opdrag orkestpartituur -rekreasie van oorspronklike aanbevole gemengde kommentaar deur Keeper of Imperial War Museum 's Film and Photographic Archives. Digitaal gerestoureerde weergawe met die keuse van drie klankbane in 5.1 en stereo: nuut opgedateerde orkestpartytjie -weergawe van oorspronklike aanbevole medley -kommentaar deur Keeper of Imperial War Museum & Film & Photographic Archives.

Sien inligting oor produksie, loket en amp

Sien inligting oor produksie, loket en amp

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Meer soos hierdie

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Gebruikersresensies 1

Teen 1916 het die oorlog aan die Westelike Front in 'n dooiepunt verval, met loopgrawe en doringdraad wat oor die hele Europa loop, van die Middellandse See tot by die Noordsee.

The reason for the battle of the Somme was that the French in the south were under great pressure from the Germans. A British attack in the north, across the Somme, would draw the Germany army away and give the French a breather.

At the Somme, the British infantry had 150,000 men against the German's 70,000. The attack was preceded by a massive week-long barrage of a thousand artillery guns, the general idea being to destroy the ground and allow the infantry to walk in and occupy it.

It didn't turn out that way. The defensive lines were still intact because the British artillery wasn't heavy enough, because the artillerists were ill trained, and because there was no special device to open up the barbed wire, which was far more formidable than the barbed wire we're used to today. The Brits used anti-personnel air-bursting shrapnel shells instead of contact high explosives that would have opened gaps in the wire. Military planners had prepared for a fast-moving war and had overproduced shrapnel so the artillery used what was available.

So why had the anti-personnel shells not destroyed the defenders? After all, that was their designated purpose, yet German casualties in the bombardment were slight. Careful research by the Germans had produced the Stahlhelm, a thick steel helmet precisely made to protect the head. The Allies had no equivalent. The Germans had also had two years to prepare underground dugouts, sometimes thirty feet deep, protected by timber and even concrete. Further, the British had planned to use the trenches both to move new troops to the front lines and carry wounded to the rear. The trenches were too narrow and logistics broke down. The British troops were delayed because they didn't know where to go. It was six hours before the commanders learned of the problem.

If I can make a few editorial observations, by 1916 the war was beginning to look a lot like the trench warfare at the end of the American Civil War. Both the North and the South had built wide, sturdy trenches with frequent "bombproofs" that could shelter the men. The Germans more or less used the same techniques but the British did not. One of the reasons the Brits had so few dugouts is that the planners felt that, once inside the dugouts, the men would refuse to come out and be fired upon.

Why were the Brits so vulnerable crossing No Man's land? First, they carried a minimum of 72 pounds of personal equipment, plus ammunition or other supplies. They were slow and had great difficulty with the wire. And since the Germans had mostly survived, they were able to fire across the open plain with machine guns. Again, during the Civil War, it was repeatedly demonstrated that such tactics do not work against advanced technology in attacking a fortified position head on. A head-on attack with infantry in line of battle worked for Napoleon's inaccurate muskets. It didn't work against the rifled bullets of the Civil War or the machine guns of the Somme.

The British losses were staggering but planners learned from the calamity. They also learned from their French Allies and their German enemies. Tactics and weapons more suitable to the conditions were used.

I don't know if programs like this interest everyone. I doubt it. But as an anthropologist war fascinates me. It's like a smoldering disease that becomes symptomatic from time to time. And no one has found a reliable way of keeping it suppressed.


The Somme: was it really a monstrous failure?

As we reach the centenary of Britain's most notorious battle of the First World War, Gary Sheffield questions whether it truly was uniquely terrible.

Hierdie kompetisie is nou gesluit

Published: July 23, 2016 at 11:59 am

In the early evening of 14 July 1916, two squadrons of British and Indian cavalry launched a surprise attack on German infantry and machine-gunners near High Wood in the north-east corner of France. Carefully using the folds in the ground to conceal their advance, the horsemen of the 7th Dragoon Guards charged the defenders, got in among them, and killed and wounded a number with their lances. Stunned by the sudden assault, 32 Germans surrendered.

Their shock action over, the 7th and Deccan Horse dismounted and entrenched, but when the anticipated support from reserve infantry failed to materialise, they fell back. The two squadrons had lost about 100 men.

It was a remarkable end to a remarkable day – one that had begun at 3.25am with an artillery bombardment and a successful infantry attack on the German trenches on Bazentin Ridge. However the success was to be short-lived. To take advantage of the initial advances, reserves needed to be rushed up – a feat of organisation that was to prove beyond the capabilities of the inexperienced British Expeditionary Force (BEF). That’s why, when the cavalry did get into action, it wasn’t until the evening.

So the ‘dawn attack’ of 14 July, which promised so much, ended up gaining little. In the final analysis it was marred by administrative bungling, early gains too easily surrendered and, of course, bloodshed – an all-too familiar story in the long, brutal battle of the Somme.

The Somme has, over the past century, become a byword for futility. It is widely regarded, in Britain at least, as a uniquely terrible slaughterhouse. The casualty figures speak for themselves. Almost 20,000 British troops lost their lives on 1 July 1916 – the opening day of General Sir Douglas Haig’s ‘big push’ against German forces – in what remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. By the time the battle ground to a halt in November, Britain had suffered an estimated 420,000 casualties (killed, wounded and missing), while the French and German armies had lost perhaps 200,000 and 500–600,000 respectively.

Yes, the Somme was a truly terrible battle. But the question is, was it uniquely terrible – a horrific aberration in the history of Britain’s military endeavours? And is it fair to damn it as an abject failure?

Combined assault

The origins of the battle of the Somme lay in December 1915 when Britain, France, Italy and Russia agreed to launch synchronised attacks in 1916. Franco-British forces were to unleash a combined assault in the area of the river Somme, even though an attack further north, at Ypres, held more attractions to General Sir Douglas Haig, the commander-in-chief of the BEF. If the BEF broke out from Ypres, Haig argued, it would place key strategic objectives, such as the German-held Belgian coast, in reach. But the French insisted on the British fighting alongside them on the Somme.

The attack was preceded by a massive bombardment of German positions. With Allied guns pounding the enemy for seven days, morale among the attackers was high – surely nothing, they reckoned, could live through the artillery’s onslaught. Unfortunately, a combination of faulty tactics, the inexperience of the British gunners and lack of high explosive shells meant that the bombardment was ineffective across most of the front.

The infantry attacked on 1 July at 7.30am. Near Thiepval, 36th (Ulster) Division drove deep into the German defences, only to be forced back because the attacks of the divisions on their flanks had failed. This allowed the Germans to concentrate their fire and counterattacks on the Ulsters. Something similar happened to 56th (London) Division at Gommecourt.

In the south of the battlefield, by contrast, the British and, even more so, the French, made major advances. But it is the failures of 1 July 1916 that are remembered, along with the dreadful losses: 57,000 British casualties, of whom 19,000 were killed.

Before the battle, Haig hoped to break the German defences and open mobile warfare once more, but he had always recognised that a back-up plan of limited advances was essential. The failure to break through on the first day of the battle made that contingency a reality. Fighting from 1 to 13 July took the form of a number of small-scale or attritional attacks, usually costly in lives.

British losses were enormous. But so were German. With the defenders under enormous pressure on the Somme, General Erich von Falkenhayn, the de facto German army commander-in-chief, halted the massive offensive on French forces at Verdun (which had begun in February) on 11 July. One of the Allies’ major objectives – to relieve the pressure on the fortress city – was fulfilled.

Building on the partial success of 14 July in the southern sector of the battlefield, relentless Allied attacks crashed into resolute German defences. The German policy of immediately counterattacking Allied gains meant that places such as High Wood, Longueval and Guillemont were the scene of bitter – and repeated – struggles. The South African Brigade captured Delville (‘Devil’s’) Wood on 15 July but the Germans quickly recaptured it. British troops then retook the wood on 27 July, with fighting continuing there until early September.

Brutal training

In the northern sector of the battlefield, the fighting was equally fierce. The mostly inexperienced British empire troops and their leaders endured brutal on-the-job training on a battlefield dominated by high explosive shells. The result was confusion, courage, mistakes, the painful learning of lessons that were not always properly absorbed, and the death, wounding and traumatising of hundreds of thousands of men. Yet across the battlefield the Germans were steadily, if slowly, driven back.

By September the French army was shouldering a larger share of the fighting and, on the 12th, it almost penetrated the German defences at Bouchavesnes. Haig launched a major push on 15 September, when 12 British, Canadian and New Zealand divisions, supported by the first ever tanks to see action, advanced about a mile – far short of the hoped for breakthrough. As ever, the losses were high. A British chaplain later wrote: “The glory and success of [the battle of] September 15th I did not see, but the cost of it I shall never forget… Whereas [at the field hospital] on ordinary days one triple tent for officers and one for men sufficed, now all the rows of them were in use and the ground outside was covered in stretchers.”

Still the battle went on, despite heavy rain that turned the ground into a quagmire. General Joffre, the French commander-in-chief, directed that the attrition would continue. The British attacked one hill, the Butte de Warlencourt, time and again. Shortly after it was captured, Lieutenant-Colonel Roland Boys Bradford VC, commander of 1/9 Battalion Durham Light Infantry, commented that the Butte “had become an obsession… It loomed large in the minds of the soldiers in the forward area and they attributed many of their misfortunes to it. So it had to be taken.”

The final phase was the battle of the Ancre (13–18 November) in the north of the battlefield, where the 51st (Highland) Division stormed the fortified village of Beaumont-Hamel. Having seized this target (which was originally meant to be taken on 1 July) – and with the offensive running out of steam, and the weather worsening – the Allies closed the battle down.

Appalling casualties

In the case of some great military clashes – Hastings in 1066, Waterloo in 1815 – there were clear winners and losers. This was not the case with the Somme. When it ended, the attackers had advanced about seven miles, but had failed to rout the defenders, or even force them into a major retreat. Both sides suffered appalling – and comparable – casualties.

On the face of it, the Somme was a draw. But when you place it into a wider perspective, it soon becomes evident that its outcome favoured the Allies. With their greater manpower resources, the British and French empires were better equipped to sustain the dreadful attrition than the Germans. By the end of the battle, the BEF had completed its apprenticeship, had learned and applied numerous lessons, and was, in 1917, a much more experienced and competent army.

The German army, although still a formidable force, had lost key personnel. A staff officer, Captain Hans von Hentig, commented that: “The Somme was the muddy grave of the German field army… dug by British industry and its shells.”

Before the Somme, German High Command had underestimated the British Army. Now, it faced the unpalatable reality that it was confronted with a major new force on the western front. The German leadership responded in two ways. In early 1917, it abandoned the old Somme battlefield and pulled the army back to a formidable defensive position, which the British dubbed the ‘Hindenburg Line’.

Even more significantly, it took the fateful decision to try to force Britain out of the war through unrestricted submarine warfare – allowing U-boats to sink merchant vessels, regardless of nationality. This was bound to bring the neutral USA into the war. Yet the Germans reckoned that a starving Britain would be compelled to sue for peace before American power could make a difference.

In doing so they made an enormously costly strategic miscalculation.

So, while the Somme was not an Allied victory in the traditional sense, it did amount to a significant strategic success for the British and French. In this respect, it was no failure.

Wars in deadlock

The Somme is remembered – perhaps more than any other military encounter in British history – as a battle of attrition. Thousands of men lost their lives fighting for tiny pockets of land that were, in many cases, soon surrendered back to the enemy. But, for all that, the Somme was hardly uniquely attritional. From Verdun to the great battles on the western front of 1915 and 1917–18, to the massive campaigns in eastern Europe, the First World War was pockmarked by protracted, grinding bloodbaths.

And this style of combat was not confined to the fighting fronts: submarine warfare and blockade were both designed to slowly but relentlessly starve the enemy population.

What’s more, attrition as a weapon of war didn’t disappear with the signing of the armistice in November 1918. In fact, it was all too typical of the high-intensity military operations that dominated the first half of the 20th century – and that includes the Second World War. Despite its reputation as a predominantly swift-moving and decisive encounter, the 1939–45 conflict often descended into deadlock too. Yes, the German army overran its enemies at lightning speed in the early years. But from late 1941 – with the Allies on the ropes but crucially not knocked out – Somme-style slogging matches returned to the battlefield.

The sheer size of the USSR, allied to the iron laws of logistics, meant that the Germans were unable to capitalise on their initial successes in Operation Barbarossa. Soviet commanders learned from their earlier defeats, and the Red Army eventually proved to be a formidable and skilful enemy.

British empire forces, although not as numerous, likewise learned lessons and became much more capable on the battlefield. The entry of the USA into the war in December 1941 brought a large, fresh and technologically advanced army into the anti-German coalition.

The shifting balance of resources was also reflected in the skies, where Allied aircraft – once terrorised by the Luftwaffe – soon reigned supreme. So, by the middle of the war, the German advantages that had served them well in earlier years had largely been eliminated. Now, the armies were much more evenly matched. Stalemate ensued.

This deadlock tended to be shorter in duration than in the First World War. Tanks, motorised transport and aircraft helped make fronts more mobile and restored the possibility of decisive manoeuvre such as battles of encirclement, largely absent from the western front from 1915–18. Nevertheless, campaigns such as the second battle of El Alamein (1942), Stalingrad (1942–43), Kursk (1943), Monte Cassino (1944), and Normandy (1944) produced conditions highly reminiscent of the western front, complete with casualty rates that often equalled or exceeded those of a generation before.

This is the context in which we need to understand the battle of the Somme. It was not an aberration. It was like so many other battles of the early 20th century – battles that had evolved by the Second World War without losing their essentially attritional character.

Yes, British Army losses in 1939–45 were substantially lower than in the First World War. But that was the case for two reasons. First, the army was much smaller. Second, the British, unlike in 1914–18, did not have to fight for a prolonged period against the main enemy – defeat in 1940 and the Dunkirk evacuation ensured that. However, casualty rates for individual units reveal that the fighting was very bloody – especially during the campaign in western Europe in 1944–45. The level of losses during the bitter advance from Normandy to the Baltic would have been grimly familiar to infantrymen who fought on the Somme two decades earlier.

Gary Sheffield is professor of War Studies at Wolverhampton University. A new edition of his biography of Haig has just been published: Douglas Haig: From the Somme to Victory (Aurum Press).

Five defining moments on the Somme

1) The BEF takes the lead

Unexpectedly, it was the BEF and not the French army that contributed the most troops to the first stages of the Somme. The initial plan had the French taking the lead. However on 21 February 1916 the Germans attacked around the French city of Verdun. The fighting there sucked in large numbers of French divisions, forcing the progressive scaling back of the French contribution to the forthcoming offensive.

If the battle-hardened French army had assumed the lion’s share of the fighting rather than the inexperienced British, what would the outcome of the Somme have been? It’s a fascinating counterfactual.

2) Blood and glory on 1 July

The 1st of July 1916 was a day of mixed fortunes for the Allies. In the north of the battlefield the offensive was a disaster. In places the barbed wire was not cut, and the gunners had failed to deal with enemy artillery and machine-guns. Some divisions captured ground but were driven back through lack of support. But in the south the raw soldiers of XIII Corps, including Pals from Liverpool and Manchester, and the 8th East Surreys, who kicked footballs into action, captured all their objectives. The French also made a major advance, at a tiny cost in casualties.

3) Empire troops are cut down

On 1 July the 1st Newfoundland Regiment lost 324 men killed and 386 wounded out of a total of 801, in a brave but doomed attack near Beaumont-Hamel. This was the first contingent from the Dominions of the British empire that fought on the Somme. The Australians first came into action, around Pozières, in mid-July and August. The South African Brigade made its name at Delville Wood in mid-July, while Canadians and New Zealanders made their Somme debut in late August and September. The Somme was an important milestone in the emergence of Dominion divisions as elite formations.

4) The advantage is lost

In the early hours of 14 July, British infantry crept out under the cover of darkness into no man’s land. This lay between the British front line, captured from the Germans on 1 July, and the defenders on Bazentin ridge. When the attack was launched at dawn the defenders were surprised and rapidly overrun. A great victory appeared to be at hand. But, as we explain on page 24, it was not to be, for it proved impossible to get reserves to the right place rapidly enough to exploit the success. A cavalry attack turned out to be too little, too late.

5) Tanks roll into action

On 15 September 1916, the tank appeared for the first time upon a battlefield. Trench deadlock spurred the development of numerous weapons, including mortars and hand grenades, but the most significant was the armoured fighting vehicle.

Initially developed by the British, the Mark I tank deployed in the fighting at Flers-Courcelette was a fragile machine that broke down easily. Its performance was patchy, but the success of one machine at the village of Flers was reported in the press and caught the public imagination.

Why Haig was no butcher

The general’s strategy in 1916 was fundamentally correct

Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig is one of the most controversial generals of all time, and his performance during the battle of the Somme is central to his reputation. He has become known to some as ‘The Butcher of the Somme’, although there is no evidence that anyone called him that while the war was going on. Interestingly, until the 1960s it was Passchendaele (properly, the third battle of Ypres) that was popularly regarded as the epitome of wasteful horror, rather than the Somme.

Among the charges against Haig’s conduct of the Somme is that he was an old-fashioned cavalry general who failed to adapt to trench warfare. In reality, Haig was thoroughly conversant with modern war. After the trauma of the Boer War, he played a key role in reforming the army and preparing it for a new conflict. Haig had, among other things, been responsible for modernising the British Army. Cavalry (reformed by Haig and others) continued to have a place on the battlefield, even on the Somme.

As C-in-C from late 1915 onwards, Haig oversaw the transformation of his inexperienced army of volunteers and conscripts to a war-winning force – but the battle of the Somme took place very early in this process. He was consistent in his belief that trench deadlock should be seen as a transient phase, and that the BEF should be ready for when ‘normal’ conditions returned to the battlefield. Ultimately Haig was proved right in 1918, but it took far longer to break the stalemate than he had anticipated.

Whatever else he might have been, Haig was not a technophobe. He was a keen supporter of advanced technology, such as aircraft, quick-firing artillery and machine-guns. He has been criticised for supposedly throwing away the advantage of surprise by prematurely committing a small number of tanks to battle on 15 September. This is unjust. Tanks were simply too primitive to be war-winners, and their use to support the infantry was appropriate given the circumstances.

If Haig had waited for months for large numbers to be available, the secret would probably have leaked out.

Haig has also been accused of being vastly over-optimistic, with dire results for his troops. There is some truth in this, but only some. He believed that British shelling had cut German barbed wire prior to the attack on 1 July, but that was what his intelligence staff had told him. There was a collective failure, rather than it being solely down to Haig.

But Haig was culpable for the disastrous decision to order the artillery to fire on multiple targets during the preliminary bombardment, to ease the infantry’s way through the dense German positions and restore mobile fighting. The weight of explosives was spread far too thinly, and key German positions were not suppressed. This had bloody consequences for the attacking infantry, many of whom got no further than no man’s land or, at best, the enemy front line.

Haig also consistently overrated the effect of attrition on German morale. He was not well-served by his intelligence staff in this regard, although it is not true to say that they simply told him what he wanted to hear.

Haig’s performance as a general on the Somme was patchy but by no means all bad. He made mistakes and sometimes expected too much of his raw troops.

On occasion he was let down by senior subordinates. But while Haig’s strategy was sometimes clumsy and wasteful, it was fundamentally correct. The Somme was a critical phase in Haig’s apprenticeship as a high commander, an essential stepping-stone to the victories of 1918.

In late 1916, a divisional commander reflecting on 1 July suggested “that perhaps we had all been rather optimistic as to what it was possible to do”. Haig’s reply was unusually candid: “Well, we were all learning.”


The Battle of the Somme

Digitally restored version with choice of three soundtracks in 5.1 and stereo: newly commissioned orchestral score recreation of original recommended medley commentary by Keeper of I. Read all Digitally restored version with choice of three soundtracks in 5.1 and stereo: newly commissioned orchestral score recreation of original recommended medley commentary by Keeper of Imperial War Museum's Film and Photographic Archives. Digitally restored version with choice of three soundtracks in 5.1 and stereo: newly commissioned orchestral score recreation of original recommended medley commentary by Keeper of Imperial War Museum's Film and Photographic Archives.

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By 1916 the war on the Western Front had bogged down into a stalemate, with trenches and barbed wire running across Europe from the Mediterranean to the North Sea.

The reason for the battle of the Somme was that the French in the south were under great pressure from the Germans. A British attack in the north, across the Somme, would draw the Germany army away and give the French a breather.

At the Somme, the British infantry had 150,000 men against the German's 70,000. The attack was preceded by a massive week-long barrage of a thousand artillery guns, the general idea being to destroy the ground and allow the infantry to walk in and occupy it.

It didn't turn out that way. The defensive lines were still intact because the British artillery wasn't heavy enough, because the artillerists were ill trained, and because there was no special device to open up the barbed wire, which was far more formidable than the barbed wire we're used to today. The Brits used anti-personnel air-bursting shrapnel shells instead of contact high explosives that would have opened gaps in the wire. Military planners had prepared for a fast-moving war and had overproduced shrapnel so the artillery used what was available.

So why had the anti-personnel shells not destroyed the defenders? After all, that was their designated purpose, yet German casualties in the bombardment were slight. Careful research by the Germans had produced the Stahlhelm, a thick steel helmet precisely made to protect the head. The Allies had no equivalent. The Germans had also had two years to prepare underground dugouts, sometimes thirty feet deep, protected by timber and even concrete. Further, the British had planned to use the trenches both to move new troops to the front lines and carry wounded to the rear. The trenches were too narrow and logistics broke down. The British troops were delayed because they didn't know where to go. It was six hours before the commanders learned of the problem.

If I can make a few editorial observations, by 1916 the war was beginning to look a lot like the trench warfare at the end of the American Civil War. Both the North and the South had built wide, sturdy trenches with frequent "bombproofs" that could shelter the men. The Germans more or less used the same techniques but the British did not. One of the reasons the Brits had so few dugouts is that the planners felt that, once inside the dugouts, the men would refuse to come out and be fired upon.

Why were the Brits so vulnerable crossing No Man's land? First, they carried a minimum of 72 pounds of personal equipment, plus ammunition or other supplies. They were slow and had great difficulty with the wire. And since the Germans had mostly survived, they were able to fire across the open plain with machine guns. Again, during the Civil War, it was repeatedly demonstrated that such tactics do not work against advanced technology in attacking a fortified position head on. A head-on attack with infantry in line of battle worked for Napoleon's inaccurate muskets. It didn't work against the rifled bullets of the Civil War or the machine guns of the Somme.

The British losses were staggering but planners learned from the calamity. They also learned from their French Allies and their German enemies. Tactics and weapons more suitable to the conditions were used.

I don't know if programs like this interest everyone. I doubt it. But as an anthropologist war fascinates me. It's like a smoldering disease that becomes symptomatic from time to time. And no one has found a reliable way of keeping it suppressed.


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