MHO Home   Forum Home   Help   Register   Login
 
 
Welcome to MilitaryHistoryOnline.com.
You are not signed in.
The current time is: 7/18/2018 8:50:28 AM
 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
AuthorMessage
Page 1 of 2 (Page: 1  2 )
anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/1/2018 4:16:53 AM
On this first day of July, exactly 102 years ago, the peoples of the British Empire suffered the greatest military disaster in their history. A century later, “the Somme” remains the most harrowing place-name in the annals not only of Great Britain, but of the many former dependencies that shed their blood on that scenic river.

The single regiment contributed to the First World War by the island of Newfoundland, not yet joined to Canada, suffered nearly 100 percent casualties that day: Of 801 engaged, only 68 came out alive and unwounded.

Altogether, the British forces suffered more than 19,000 killed and more than 38,000 wounded: almost as many casualties in one day as Britain suffered in the entire disastrous battle for France in May and June 1940, including prisoners. The French army on the British right flank absorbed some 1,600 casualties more.

[Read More]

Regards

Jim







---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/1/2018 5:05:59 AM
One of the questions that is often asked of me since I wrote my book on the battle of the Somme is: was there one event that led to the failure of the ‘big push’? It is hard to pinpoint one single cause, but if pressed I would specify the unhealthy relationship between two of Britain’s top generals. As mentioned in my book, they had very different views about how the offensive should be started.

On the one hand there were the flamboyant views of General Sir Douglas Haig, the 55-year-old commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), the eternal optimist.

He was adamant that any attack plan should be ambitious, and should be calibrated so that there was at least the chance of a decisive breakthrough. If the plan worked, he wanted the coup de grâce to be administered by his beloved cavalry, the branch of the army where he had earned his spurs.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/1/2018 6:27:30 AM
The Germans actually mowed us down like sheep," he later told the Newfoundland Quarterly. "I managed to get to their barbed wire, where I got the first shot; then went to jump into their trench when I got the second in the leg. I lay in No Man's Land for fifteen hours, and then crawled a distance of a mile and a quarter.

They fired on me again, this time fetching me in the left leg, and so I waited for another hour and moved again, only having the use of my left arm now. As I was doing splendidly, nearing our own trench they again fetched me, this time around the hip as I crawled on. I managed to get to our own line which I saw was evacuated as our artillery was playing heavily on their trenches. They retaliated and kept me in a hole for another hour.

I was then rescued by Captain Windeler who took me on his back to the dressing station a distance of two miles. Well, thank God my wounds are all flesh wounds and won't take long to heal up." ("Better than the Best,"

Regards

Jim5)
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/1/2018 6:41:53 AM
At 6.30am, the British artillery commenced its final furious bombardment of the German front line. At 7.20am, Captain Tough led the first of the battalion's four waves 100 yds into the nightmare of No Man's Land under the cover of artillery and mortar fire.

A few minutes later, the second wave followed led by Captain Livesey. As shells continued to burst on the German front trench, the men of the 3rd and 4th Companies IR169 scrambled from their underground shelters bringing machine guns, rifles and grenades to bear on the attacking troops. At 7.30am, the bombardment was lifted from the German front line and the leading waves rose and walked in line towards the German positions. Machine gun- and rifle fire immediately tore into the advancing lines of infantry. One British observer likened the lines of dead to "swathes of cut corn at harvest time".

Incredible as it now seems, groups of Pals defied the machine gun fire, threaded their way through the barbed wire and dropped into the German front line. On their left, some of the 12th York & Lancasters also fought their way through. All was in vain. Behind, the third and fourth waves suffered dreadful losses before even reaching No Man's Land.

The leading companies of the 13th York & Lancasters were cut down in turn. Some of the Pals - their officers killed or wounded - pressed on towards Serre, never to be seen again. The remaining survivors in the German front line - bereft of reinforcements - were forced to withdraw. By 8am, the battle for Serre was effectively over.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/1/2018 7:15:38 AM
The easiest battles of the day were at Fricourt and Mametz which were at angle to each (ie on right angled bend) other .So each Divisionns artillery were at right angles to where each the ojectives and were able to enfilade and neutralize the other's enemy trenches; and shot accordingly. Both villages were taken in the morning.

Regards

Jim







---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/2/2018 9:41:35 AM
In the past quarter-century, revisionist historians have sought to amend the story of the Somme.

They instruct us that the battle lasted not just a single day, but almost five months of continuing British attacks.

The German losses over the length of the battle were probably even heavier than the British: more than 450,000 against Britain’s 420,000.

The first day of the Somme ended in catastrophe, and the campaign in futility, not because the British commanders were idiots, but because the problems they faced were too new and too hard.

All these assessments have been absorbed by specialists, but none has made much impress on the public imagination.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/2/2018 11:09:38 AM
Remember, Jim, that those 450,000 German casualties were suffered against the British and French combined . The Anglo French total was 620,000. An advantage of 1.4 to 1 in Germany’s favour. The French succeeded in inflicting as many casualties on the Germans as they took themselves, while the British suffered nearly twice as many as they inflicted.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/2/2018 11:44:19 AM
The plan went horribly wrong in three deadly ways: As heavy as the artillery was, it was not nearly heavy enough to wreck concrete fortifications well beneath ground level.

At the same time, because the fire had been so prolonged, it messed up the ground enough to disorder infantry trying to advance in formation.

And because the first-day casualties were so devastating, the British could not recover from their initial mistake, the way, say, Ulysses Grant recovered from his disastrous first day at Shiloh in 1862.

There just weren’t enough trained troops surviving unhurt to keep fighting the battle the way it had been planned. "En Avant--Toujours a la Battaille"---

The Somme battle had been announced a week early by multi-day artillery bombardment, involving a total of 1.75 million shells: the heaviest fire in the whole history of the world to that point.

In Flanders, much lighter bombardments had sliced apart German barbed wire and smashed German trenches. The bombardment had also churned the ground into untraversable muck.

The lesson learned from past mistakes: Even more shells should destroy the defense entirely—and firmer ground would bear the weight of massed infantry as it punched through to seize the rail lines behind German lines, forcing a retreat of the German forces supplied by those lines.


Regards


Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/2/2018 1:23:39 PM
Jim,

That bombardment sounded fantastic : people could hear it on Hampstead Heath in London.

In reality, it was a bit of a damp squib. The number of shells fired by the British was 1.75 million ; the weight of the shells aggregated about 25,000 tons.

One year later, in their Flanders ( Passchendaele ) offensive, the British number reached 4.2 million, and the weight of shells 107,000 tons.

The British Somme bombardment was weak, both in the number and the weight of shells fired....it’s been estimated that maybe one third of those shells failed to explode, anyway !

You make an interesting comparison with the British predicament on 1 July 1916 and Grant’s at Shiloh. I would add another analogy with an American Civil War episode : the failure of the British bombardment at the Somme was rather similar to the failure of the Confederate artillery barrage prior to Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. At Gettysburg , in the big attack on 3 July, twelve thousand southern infantry were deployed and six thousand of them became casualties . Fifty three years later, on the First Day of the Somme, 120,000 British infantry attacked and sixty thousand of them were cut down. A tenfold increase in scale, but a similarly important artillery failure being a common factor in both.

I have no information about the weight and effect of the French bombardment that accompanied the British artillery in the preliminary bombardment. I expect that it was more successful than that of the British, with a higher proportion of heavy ordnance. It’s recorded that British soldiers attacking in the southern sector, where they joined with the French, were able to take positions where the German dead lay in great numbers : all killed by the French mortars and howitzers. Around Montaubon and Carnoy, the cellars were full of dead Germans. The French, of course, had been taught the trade of artillery warfare at Verdun. Incidentally, the opening German bombardment at Verdun on 21 February 1916 was much more intense than that of the British at the Somme, with a million shells being fired in twelve hours.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/2/2018 1:51:58 PM

Quote:
I would add another analogy with an American Civil War episode : the failure of the British bombardment at the Somme was rather similar to the failure of the Confederate artillery barrage prior to Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. At Gettysburg , in the big attack on 3 July, twelve thousand southern infantry were deployed and six thousand of them became casualties . Fifty three years later, on the First Day of the Somme, 120,000 British infantry attacked and sixty thousand of them were cut down. A tenfold increase in scale, but a similarly important artillery failure being a common factor in both.


I watched the movie "Gettysburg" and it brought tears to my eyes-such was the Coinfederate resolve to gain the Union stockade.IMO the Confederates should have been routed after Pickett;s Division was destroyed

Re Fricourt and Mametz--the British Infantry Divisions 21 and 30 I think; being at right angles to each other--the artillery of each Division shot for the other--as the enemy entrenchments were thus able to be enf illaded and completely reduced both forward and support trenches--the only near"walkover of the day.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/2/2018 2:53:11 PM
Gettysburg started with a southern triumph and ended with a disaster for Dixie.

The Somme started horribly for Britain and ended - certainly not triumphantly - but with a very significant improvement for the troops of the BEF.

Both Gettysburg and the Somme were battles pretty well in the middle of their respective wars .

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/3/2018 3:55:11 AM
Battles continued in this sector into the following weeks as the British tried to break the German defence.

The names of villages and woods on the Somme battlefields have become synonymous with the desperate fighting and tragic loss of both the British and German Armies during the four and a half months of these battles.

Gommecourt, Serre, Beaumont Hamel, Thiepval, Ovillers, La Boisselle, Courcelette, Fricourt, Contalmaison, Mametz, Montauban, Bazentin, Longueval, Delville Wood, Martinpuich, High Wood, Flers all had a story to tell.

During the first two weeks of the Somme offensive there were a series of small scale attacks, mostly south of the Albert-Bapaume road.

General Haig wanted to build on the successes that had been made here on the 1 July and put the Fourth Army in a more advantageous position in preparation for a larger assault on the Bazentin Ridge.

The list of casualties grew as the Fourth Army engaged in a brutal contest to capture Trones Wood, Contalmaison and Mametz Wood.

IMO German resolve and resistance had stiffened considerably and this would appear to be heir hall mrk n the future -with each British Advance their defence becomes more impregnable


Regards

Jim

---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/3/2018 4:51:00 AM
Jim,

Please venture an opinion here.

A narrative is all very well, but without the input of your much sought after interpretation and opinion, we might as well consult online encyclopaedias and leave it at that.

I suspect that you feel a strong emotional reaction to the story of the Somme. Who wouldn’t, especially a Briton ?

Please can we discuss your closing comment about German resolve and resistance stiffening ?

What motivated that ?

I wonder why the Germans fought so furiously to retain these hamlets and woodlots.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/3/2018 5:23:37 AM
Okay Phil--i have elaborated o the the German resistance stffening and yes there was good reason for this.

The German invaders had no wish whatsoever of giving groundat this juncture

I am sure they felt they had the whiphand in this battle and for the meantime it would be their Verdun. And so it proved--we did not reach Bapaume--we advanced about 6 miles from the start line--it is mind boggling--truth to tell-the whole bloody business was an abomination--it's steward "saved by the Northcliffe Press"--his words --not mine.Well you did ask.

Operation Albrecht when THEY CHOSE--that was some months ahead.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/3/2018 7:49:47 AM
Thanks, Jim.

You’re sure that the Germans ..felt that they had the whiphand in this battle....

That would make an excellent topic for discussion.

As far as the British were concerned, I would imagine that the Germans felt that they had a qualitative edge which encouraged them to fight tenaciously and suffuse their resistance with fierce counter attacks. In regard to the French, the Germans - I believe - were shocked and shaken by the strength and progress of the attack of Fayolle’s troops. The French possessed skills and flexibility that the British lacked at that time. Verdun itself had imparted those attributes to the French. When they attacked, the Germans were - to their dismay - made aware that not only had Verdun failed to disable the French, it had actually improved their fighting performance. The British were seen as brave soldiers rendered inept by tactical rigidity. This view changed as the battle progressed.

What I think we must never forget when we discuss the Somme is the awful impact of the Brusilov Offensive. This was a truly frightening moment for Germany, and the strain of trying to hold things together against the Entente in the West was massively amplified by the incredibly successful Russian onslaught. Here was the real horror of war on two fronts.


Edit : Oh, yes....and just to make the cup run over, Romania entered the war on the Allied side.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/3/2018 8:27:58 AM
"As far as the British were concerned, I would imagine that the Germans felt that they had a qualitative edge which encouraged them to fight tenaciously and suffuse their resistance with fierce counter attacks." I would define your words as "the whiphand"

Re the French-did their ferocious attacks under Fayolle gain any more ground than the British ie. a total advance of six miles in the period of the battle???-

The Brusilov offensive involved a major Russian attack against the armies of the Central Powers on the Eastern Front.

Launched on 4 June 1916, it lasted until late September and I agree it would be of great concern to the German High Command; but the Oberleutnant and his Feldgrau had a job to do here in France; and this they did "in spades".

It took place in an area of present-day western Ukraine, in the general vicinity of the towns of Lviv, Kovel, and Lutsk.It was a stalemate; but it's casualties were horrendous -a million shared between the belligerents-Russia and Austro-Hungary--I think it fair to say thatboth sides "retired hurt"

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/3/2018 9:48:37 AM
The French - by the end of the battle - had gained more territory and taken more prisoners than the British and suffered fewer than half as many casualties in doing so.

The Germans were probably more willing to relinquish territory in the southern sector than they were in the north ; this, to a degree, accounts for the disparity. The fact is, though, that the French were more adept at this stage.

The loss of Thiepval to the British in September 1916 was felt very keenly by the Germans, and also attests to significant improvements in British tactics.

I find it very hard - at this remove of several generations - to understand how the people of Britain were willing and able to endure the stupefying cost of this battle.

The same might be said of the French and German populations ; not to mention the folks of Canada, Newfoundland, Australia and New Zealand....and, last but not least....the South Africans whose menfolk suffered at Delville Wood. That this occurred barely a dozen years after the end of the Boer War is something astonishing. We tend to deprecate the British Empire today. Perhaps people should think again.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/3/2018 10:58:28 AM

Quote:
The same might be said of the French and German populations ; not to mention the folks of Canada, Newfoundland, Australia and New Zealand....and, last but not least....the South Africans whose menfolk suffered at Delville Wood. That this occurred barely a dozen years after the end of the Boer War is something astonishing. We tend to deprecate the British Empire today. Perhaps people should think again.


The Boer War 1899--1902 bred the Generals (most of them were ex Cavalry) of the Great War and much of their old beliefs--such as breaking the lone for the cavalry to charge through- carried over into 1914-18 war-not a good omen IMO.I do however believe that many of the more successful actions were "fathered " by the Colonials.Cavalrymen running an essentially infantry war is not a good decision.

The Bigee-the British Empire like all preceding empires fell into disrepute BECAUSE we were unable to administer to their needs-as opposed to just feeding from them. Currently we are making a hard job of looking after ourselves--surely you would not want we the British to have an empire ever again.??? No I am not a Communist, Socialist or Liberal; but would not mind being a Republican. Here I have to say that I have not said what I have to deliberately upset you; but truth may as well be out. I am what I am -an octogenerian who has had the "scales" removed from my eyes.

PS Can we go back to the Somme please Sir ???

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/3/2018 12:39:15 PM
The list of casualties grew as the Fourth Army engaged in a brutal contest to capture Trones Wood, Contalmaison and Mametz Wood.

General Haig still hoped that he could end the stalemate of trench warfare on the Western Front and break through the German defences.

On the night of the 13/14 July almost 20,000 British infantry moved undetected into No Man’s Land and formed up within 500 yards of the German line, ready for a dawn attack on the German second defensive position between Longueval and Bazentin-le-Petit.

At 3.25am the waiting infantry rushed forward after an intense lightning bombardment of only 5 minutes.

The surprise attack succeeded and the German defenders were quickly overwhelmed.

This attack was not followed up due to British communication failures, casualties and disorganisation.


Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 6:23:51 AM
Haig/Rawlinson


Quote:
Haig was adamant that any attack plan should be ambitious, and should be calibrated so that there was at least the chance of a decisive breakthrough. If the plan worked, he wanted the coup de grâce to be administered by his beloved cavalry, the branch of the army where he had earned his spurs.

On the other hand there were the more pessimistic opinions voiced by General Sir Henry Rawlinson, the 52-year-old commander of the British 4th Army, the organisation selected by Haig to carry out the Somme attack.

If asked, he might have agreed that Haig was the British Army’s equivalent of Don Quixote, because like Cervantes’ fictional anti-hero, he did not face up to the real nature of what he had to assault.

Lessons learned from previous attacks on the Western Front had convinced Rawlinson that Haig’s plan to break through the German multi-layered trench systems in one great rush, while desirable in theory, was unachievable in practice.


The 4th Army’s commander believed that the most that could be achieved in the cirumstances would be damage to German resolve.This "attitude" displayed by Rawlinson-- I suspect caused Haig to lose confidence in Rawlinson; and brought about the replacement of 4th Army by Gough's 5th Reserve Army for the Battle of Pozieres.$th Army was kept in the southern sector meanwhile.

Regards


Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 11:07:48 AM
On the night of the 13/14 July almost 20,000 British infantry moved undetected into No Man’s Land and formed up within 500 yards of the German line, ready for a dawn attack on the German second defensive position between Longueval and Bazentin-le-Petit.

At 3.25am the waiting infantry rushed forward after an intense lightning bombardment of only 5 minutes. The surprise attack succeeded and the German defenders were quickly overwhelmed.

However, Haig’s hoped for breakthrough was not achieved. The new British line formed a salient and no further progress could be made until Delville Wood and Longueval village were in Allied hands. Delville Wood came to be known as Devil’s Wood.

The South African Brigade spent six days in close-quarter fighting trying to take it and suffered around 2,300 casualties before they were relieved. Delville Wood was eventually captured on the 9 September.

The Fourth Army were also held up at High Wood, which was strategically important and located on the crest of a low ridge. A series of costly attempts were made to capture the wood, but the Germans had constructed a strong defensive position.

The Switch Line, which ran along its northern apex and had several machine gun emplacements hidden within it. It would take two months of brutal fighting before it finally fell to the British on the 15 September.

Haig's insistence on achieving a break through via battering ram tactics regardkless of casualties; indicates to me-- that he had completely lost the plot.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 1:52:17 PM

Quote:
On the night of the 13/14 July almost 20,000 British infantry moved undetected into No Man’s Land and formed up within 500 yards of the German line, ready for a dawn attack on the German second defensive position between Longueval and Bazentin-le-Petit.

At 3.25am the waiting infantry rushed forward after an intense lightning bombardment of only 5 minutes. The surprise attack succeeded and the German defenders were quickly overwhelmed.

However, Haig’s hoped for breakthrough was not achieved. The new British line formed a salient and no further progress could be made until Delville Wood and Longueval village were in Allied hands. Delville Wood came to be known as Devil’s Wood.

The South African Brigade spent six days in close-quarter fighting trying to take it and suffered around 2,300 casualties before they were relieved. Delville Wood was eventually captured on the 9 September.

The Fourth Army were also held up at High Wood, which was strategically important and located on the crest of a low ridge. A series of costly attempts were made to capture the wood, but the Germans had constructed a strong defensive position.

The Switch Line, which ran along its northern apex and had several machine gun emplacements hidden within it. It would take two months of brutal fighting before it finally fell to the British on the 15 September.

Haig's insistence on achieving a break through via battering ram tactics regardkless of casualties; indicates to me-- that he had completely lost the plot.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim,

Haig had completely lost the plot.

And what was that plot, then ?

That Bazentin attack on 14 July was a striking success. Doesn’t it persuade you to give Haig some credit ? This was accomplished by British generals and British soldiers, without the Dominion help that is so often cited as the essential attribute of British success. Heck, there was even a significant little cavalry action that demonstrated what superb horsemen could do.

The French were taken back at this British success.....they had deemed such a thing about as likely as England winning a penalty shoot out in a World Cup Football match !

Just you and I singing in this performance, Jim : rather like a forlorn duet in an opera people don’t want to attend.

Never mind, we can pitch a decent aria or two.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 2:25:35 PM
"Lost the Plot" is just a saying indicating "an actor had forgot his lines"
As I said Haig;s insistence in cntinuing to make headlong full frontal attacks was not working-he still had to learn the "Bite and Hold"tactic.Evewn Rawlnson disagreed with Haig'stactics (see previous posr) so why should I agree with his methods.?????

The attack on Bazentin Ridge was something of a departure from the norm-this attack was made at night.

Although most of the objective was captured and the German defence south of the Albert–Bapaume road put under great strain; BUT the attack was not followed up-- due to British communication failures, casualties and lack of organisation--so far as I am aware.

And here is me thinking that I was "ploughing a lone furrow".!! Sure we'll get through this but as my shift is up -I will stay by for another round.

ATVB

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 2278

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 2:31:39 PM
I´m reading.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 2:54:29 PM
Joffre insisted that the British keep attacking in the northern sector , where the repulse had been disastrous and the slaughter very one sided.

Haig, far from agreeing to keep battering ram attacks going in on the axis of failure, sought to exploit success in the south and effectively infiltrate German defences in a manner that was supposed to minimise casualties by utilising a more “ indirect” approach, in so far as such a thing was possible in a hideously intense battle against such a skilful and resolute foe. In the event, the casualties were appalling anyway.

Haig stood up to Joffre.

There was discord in the German camp, too.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 5:34:10 PM
The British artillery fired nineteen million shells in the course of this battle. I’ve used Prior and Wilson’s book as a source for that figure. That is comparable with the number that the Germans fired at the French in a similar time span at Verdun.

There is no doubt that the British advantage in men and material was very marked, and made the Germans keenly aware of how serious their predicament was.

This British advantage was squandered. Too many men in khaki were crammed into small areas : the Germans fired fewer shells, but they must have scored hits far more often. The British pushed their troops further and further into killing zones, as they sought to exploit minimal gains in a multitude of small scale and unco-ordinated attacks. I would hazard a guess and suggest that, shell for shell, those of the Germans were at least four times as effective as those of the British in the killing and wounding of enemy soldiers. And then there were those machine gunners, who mounted deadly enfilade fire that raked the narrow salients of British penetration.

For the smaller numbers of German troops who faced up to the British onslaught, this was a horrific ordeal ; their losses were appalling, and the sense of isolation and doom imparted a special sacrificial significance to their stand.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 7:45:14 PM
Unfortunately Phil you have not given the place of Battle nor the date of the aforementioned actions .This resulted in me not being able to identify when and where this action took place so that I could respond.

You will see the timing of this post is quite late for me--so if you are up betimes you can give me those missing details please--so that I can reply to you.

The new British line formed a salient and no further progress could be made until Delville Wood and Longueval village were in Allied hands.

Delville Wood came to be known as Devil’s Wood. The South African Brigade spent six days in close-quarter fighting trying to take it and suffered around 2,300 casualties before they were relieved.

Delville Wood was eventually captured on the 9 September.

The Fourth Army were also held up at High Wood, which was strategically important and located on the crest of a low ridge.

A series of costly attempts were made to capture the wood, but the Germans had constructed a strong defensive position, the Switch Line, which ran along its northern apex and had several machine gun emplacements hidden within it.

It would take six weeks of brutal fighting before it finally fell to the British on the 15 September.

Regards

Jim


---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 745

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/4/2018 8:13:17 PM
Phil,

One difference may be the the British had to devote much of their artillery fire to cutting German wire. For the Germans, this wasn't an issue. The Germans could defend far more economically than the British could attack.
The British were, moreover, tactically still behind the more adept French. I wonder if, at least in part, this was because the French, as did the Germans, entered the war with a large conscript army. They still had their own lessons to learn, but unlike the British didn't have to raise and train a whole new army before doing so. The British did learn and improve over the first couple of years, but by mid-1916 I would still rate them a good year behind the French.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 4:02:12 AM
As General Foch was commanding the battle on the French side, he thus established headquarters at Dury, to the south of Amiens, from autumn 1915 to September 1916.

He did not dispose of as many troops as at first planned because many of the French units were deployed farther south when the Germans unleashed an offensive on Verdun in early 1916.

The units that would fight on the Somme were composed of soldiers not only from mainland France, but also from the former French colonial empire and men from various countries who had chosen to fight for France with the French Foreign Legion Doughty fighters indeed.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 4:02:19 AM
French Forces on the Somme in 1016

As General Foch was commanding the battle on the French side, he thus established headquarters at Dury, to the south of Amiens, from autumn 1915 to September 1916.

He did not dispose of as many troops as at first planned because many of the French units were deployed farther south when the Germans unleashed an offensive on Verdun in early 1916.

The units that would fight on the Somme were composed of soldiers not only from mainland France, but also from the former French colonial empire and men from various countries who had chosen to fight for France with the French Foreign Legion Doughty fighters indeed; and well versed in self preservation.It is not unlikely that the Tommy was a good year behind these men.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 5:53:08 AM

Quote:
Unfortunately Phil you have not given the place of Battle nor the date of the aforementioned actions .This resulted in me not being able to identify when and where this action took place so that I could respond.






--anemone



From Prior and Wilson, page 127, alluding to the period 2-13 July in the Somme fighting :

During this period 86 battalions of the Fourth Army launched 46 attacks against the German positions. These actions were costly. Overall, Rawlinson's forces suffered 25,000 casualties, which took the total for thirteen days of operations to 85,000. As should be made clear from the examples given, these operations were carried out in sporadic fashion and on narrow fronts. On an average day just 14 per cent of the Fourth Army battalions attacked the enemy while the rest remained quiescent.....In the main they fought the enemy in piecemeal fashion, just two or three battalions at a time.


More to come.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 6:20:29 AM
During the first two weeks of the Somme offensive there were a series of small scale attacks, mostly south of the Albert-Bapaume road.Together they come under the heading of the Battle of Albert 1--13 July. The enormous barrageyou alluded to made one hell of a mess of the ground that attacking troops had to get across.

General Haig wanted to build on the successes that had been made here on the 1 July and put the Fourth Army in a more advantageous position in preparation for a larger assault on the Bazentin Ridge.

The list of casualties grew as the Fourth Army engaged in a brutal contest to capture Trones Wood, Contalmaison and Mametz Wood.

General Haig still hoped that he could end the stalemate of trench warfare on the Western Front and break through the German defences.

On the night of the 13/14 July almost 20,000 British infantry moved undetected into No Man’s Land and formed up within 500 yards of the German line, ready for a dawn attack on the German second defensive position between Longueval and Bazentin-le-Petit.

At 3.25am the waiting infantry rushed forward after an intense lightning bombardment of only 5 minutes.

The surprise attack succeeded and the German defenders were quickly overwhelmed--however the butcher bill for the whole period was tragic.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 7:56:39 AM

Quote:
Phil,

One difference may be the the British had to devote much of their artillery fire to cutting German wire. For the Germans, this wasn't an issue. The Germans could defend far more economically than the British could attack.
The British were, moreover, tactically still behind the more adept French. I wonder if, at least in part, this was because the French, as did the Germans, entered the war with a large conscript army. They still had their own lessons to learn, but unlike the British didn't have to raise and train a whole new army before doing so. The British did learn and improve over the first couple of years, but by mid-1916 I would still rate them a good year behind the French.
--Jim Cameron


Jim C,

You're right on the money there....although I might go as far as to suggest that it was closer to a two year gap than a one year lag.

I hope I wasn't allowing my guesswork to define my approach too much...but I reckon that, in the Anglo-German fighting on the Somme, the Germans fired fewer than half the number of shells that the British fired at them, and inflicted double the casualties thereby. Hence my suggestion that, shell for shell, the Germans proved four times as effective. This is mainly attributable to the task of the British gunners, that spread their fire far and wide over too wide a front and too deep a target, while the Germans could focus their retaliation on to narrow sectors that they knew to the inch, which the British obligingly crammed with men.

Edit : I've failed to do justice to the important role played by airmen in helping the British artillery to engage effectively.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 9:03:09 AM
Phil

The British and French had advanced about 6 mi (9.7 km) on the Somme, on a front of 16 mi (26 km) at a cost of 419,65 to 432,000 British and about 200,000 French casualties, against 465,181 to 500,000 or perhaps even 600,000 German casualties.Are these numbers debatable and if so on what grounds eg too narrow/wide margins ???? I ask this question purely on the score that I do not know.

Until the 1930s the dominant view of the battle in English-language writing was that the battle was a hard-fought victory against a brave, experienced and well-led opponent.

Winston Churchill had objected to the way the battle was being fought in August 1916, Lloyd George when Prime Minister criticised attrition warfare frequently and condemned the battle in his post-war memoirs.

In the 1930s a new orthodoxy of "mud, blood and futility" emerged and gained more emphasis in the 1960s when the 50th anniversaries of the Great War battles were commemorated.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 745

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 10:34:29 AM
Phil,

I did almost call it a two year lag, but counting back from the start of the Somme that would take things back to before August, 1914. And the BEF was in fact at the front and learning. So I went with one year in the interest of fairness.
At this stage in the war the British artillery was still lacking on the material side of the equation (guns, shells, fuses) and was still refining its doctrine and tactics. What was the best way to cut wire? To locate enemy batteries? To plan and execute an effective barrage, which might come in any of a number of different flavors? Of course, everybody had the same problems, but being on the offensive left the British with a more complex set of tasks.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 11:40:11 AM

Quote:
Phil

The British and French had advanced about 6 mi (9.7 km) on the Somme, on a front of 16 mi (26 km) at a cost of 419,65 to 432,000 British and about 200,000 French casualties, against 465,181 to 500,000 or perhaps even 600,000 German casualties.Are these numbers debatable and if so on what grounds eg too narrow/wide margins ???? I ask this question purely on the score that I do not know.




Jim,

The casualties of the Somme are a matter of controversy.

I know that I go on about them all the time, and I reckon I get hung up on those figures as surely as the poor British infantry got hung up on the German wire !

The British and French figures are not susceptible to much manipulation : the British suffering 415,000 to 420,000 casualties ; the French 195,000 to 204,000. There is widespread agreement here.

The German figures have been distorted in order to present the battle in a light more favourable to the British High Command.

The most reliable figures I have found were made available by the German historical archives ( reichsarciv) , and they amounted to 436,000. Of these, 164,000 were killed or missing, including prisoners, and 272,000 were wounded. Of these, I think 236,000 might be attributed to the British, and 200,000 to the French. The British therefore lost nearly twice as many men as the Germans they faced, while the French succeeded in inflicting equal damage.


Claims have been made that the Germans either wilfully understated their casualties, or that they compiled them by different criteria and excluded lightly wounded. Both these claims have been discredited. Anyone who writes that the Germans suffered 600,000+ casualties in the battle is not to be taken seriously when it comes to this aspect of the topic.


The British captured 120 square miles of enemy territory and 36,000 to 38,000 prisoners ; the French captured 180 square miles and 42,000 to 44,000 prisoners, even though they suffered fewer than half as many casualties as the British.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 11:51:30 AM
Jim C,

The shortcomings of the British artillery were so manifest in this battle that I am bound to suggest that the achievement of the BEF is all the more remarkable for them.

I love the way Churchill put it, when he summed up the ordeal of the British and Dominion troops :

….conscious of their race, proud of their cause, they seized the most formidable soldiery in Europe by the throat and hurled them unceasingly backward. If two lives or ten lives were required by their commanders to kill one German, no word of complaint ever rose from the fighting troops.....

Churchill's rhetoric was more pregnant with truth than it was with flourish. He alluded to ten British lives to kill one German, and this indeed might have been the case on the first day ; when he suggested that two British lives were taken for every German, that probably applies to the battle as a whole.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 12:16:22 PM
Thank you very much Phil-you re such a gem to have around when it comes to numbers-the source Wikipwdia did have three references for all the figures-which I left out so as not to influence you; and I think that you have unravelled them very well.

BTW the BEF of 1914 were all Regular soldiers who if nothing else knew how to shoot and despite the mauling there were sufficient left to train the New Army men.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6794
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 12:38:34 PM
Fighting continued in the southern sector further north there was a renewed attempt to capture the Pozieres Ridge.

The task of capturing Pozieres was given to the 1st Anzac Corps of 4 Infantry Divisions. On the 23 July the 1st Australian Division attacked Pozieres village.

Strong German resistance hampered efforts to progress after their initial successes and there were repeated attempts to reach the German second line positions on the top of the ridge behind the village.

On the 5 August, the Australians finally reached the ‘windmill’ some 500 yards beyond the village on the ridge crest.

The Australian divisions continued to take part in attacks in the Pozieres area before they were withdrawn at the beginning of September.

In a little over six weeks they had lost 23,000 men from 3 of it's 4 Divisions.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3069

Re: The Battle of the Somme 1916
Posted on: 7/5/2018 5:01:11 PM
Jim,

Australian dead were said to lie thicker at Pozieres than on any other battlefield of the war.

That’s something, when you think of The Nek at Gallipoli, and Fromelles in Artois, and nearby Bullecourt close to Arras.

Perhaps the fate of the Australians at Pozieres exemplifies the thing I was talking about a couple of posts back....the propensity of the British to pack men into little tongues of ground, where they were smitten relentlessly by German gunners who had the range to perfection. It must have been like shooting fish in a barrel.

It must be said, though, that the Australian soldiers made a terrific account of themselves in close quarters rifle, bomb and bayonet encounters with the enemy.

The Germans refused to relinquish those 500 yards, and fought like madmen to retain the ground. In such circumstances, against such a foe, the tiniest advances spoke of terrific feats by the attacking infantrymen.

Haig had a certain schadenfreude about the fate of the Australians : he might have seen them as hubristic, and he is supposed to have said to their commanders

You’re not fighting bashi bazouk now !

He clearly felt that they had come puffed up from Gallipoli, and that they were in for a rude awakening when they encountered the Germans. Some Australian commentators have taken deep offence ; but others have had the candour to admit that Haig had a point.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Page 1 of 2 (Page: 1  2 )
 Forum Ads from Google