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The Battle Of Somme Essay

1932 words - 8 pages

The British launched The Battle of the Somme to achieve two objectives. The first and most important goal was to relieve pressure on the French Army at Verdun, and the second was to inflict as heavy a loss as possible on the German Armies. The Battle of the Somme had to be fought to save the French Army from the crucifixion of Verdun. The head of the French Army, General Fock, and some leading British commanders did not believe this battle would help, but political masters in London and Paris supported the campaign. For many years The Battle of the Somme received much criticism for the way the battle was fought based on the number of casualties.
Joseph Joffre, The French Commander in Chief, wrote a letter to Douglas Haig on December 15, 1915, stating a great battle would need to take place in order to save the French Army from the massive killing taking place in the Battle of Verdun. Initially, Haig opposed a battle on the Somme front, but in the end agreed that the Somme would lead to a final victory because of the great trenches.
On December 19, 1915, Douglas Haig became the new commander of the BEF’s “British Expedition Force” First Army. He was a hard person to get to know and seemed to have no concern for the human suffering caused by the war. His colleagues found him strange because of his spiritual practices and religious beliefs. In spite of his strangeness, Haig was a very efficient soldier and excellent military technician. It was under his direction, that the back area of the Somme, from Albert to Amiens was transformed into an enormous military camp, which included new roads leading to the front, gun positions, and camps for the army that would launch the attack. The army, being put together on the Somme, believed in their commanders. They thought to keep everything the way it was because they believed it would help them in the end. The majority of the men were inexperienced and new to the war. Under the command of General Sir Henry Rawlinson, the army consisted of twenty divisions, in the new Fourth Army.
Haig, as Commander-in-Chief, and Rawlinson, commanding the attacking troops, agreed on the strategies but disagreed on the offensive’s objects. Haig expected a breakthrough of up to seven miles from the start line. Rawlinson believed they would take a “bite” into the German trenches to be followed by more little bites to gain territory. Both generals were proven wrong on their expectations, but Rawlinson’s was the more realistic objective. The artillery plan was that the field guns would destroy the German barbed wire in front of the trenches and the heavy guns were to attack the enemy’s artillery and trenches. The artillery was to be the key to the offensive.
Another key point in key to being offensive was the enemy's position was situated on a high, rigid piece of ground. Joffre’s army had deep trenches with bomb proof shelters and wire encirclements. When the attack started Haig’s army just had to move the...

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