Battle of the Somme

Battle of the Somme
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  • The Battle of Somme took place in northern France close to the river of Somme.
  • It started on 1st July 1917.The commander was General Sir Douglas Haig From Edinburgh, Scotland
  • The offensive was planned to take some of the pressure off the French army at Verdun. Here the French were under heavy attack from the German army and had lost many men.
  • For this reason Haig decided that they could only cope with a very simple battle plan.
  • Many of the British soldiers had only just joined up in Pals battalions and this was their first battle.
  • Haig's plan was to inflict a week long bombardment of the German frontline to destroy all the machine guns and barbed wire and to kill most the German soldiers. He would also send planes to spy on the German artillery so his soldiers would know where it was located so they could destroy it.
  • Then the British army would simply walk across No Man's Land and capture the German trenches.
  • There was so much fog that the spy planes could not locate all the German artillery.
  • However, during the bombardment the Germans hid with their weapons in their underground bunkers.
  • In addition, the shelling did not destroy the barbed wire as much as Haig hoped because many of the shells were faulty.
  • At 7.30am on 1st July 1917 the British soldiers went 'over the top' and straight into a wall of German machine gun bullets. Many of them died on the barbed war that the shelling had not managed to destroy.
  • The Battle of the Somme dragged on until 18th November 1916. British General Haig was given the nickname 'Butcher of the Somme' and many people described the battle as 'Lions Led By Donkeys'.The earlier public enthusiasm for the war had been destroyed.
  • By the end of the first day , 20 000 British soldiers were dead and 40 000 were wounded. For four months, Haig kept sending new men to the Somme battlefield.
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