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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
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anemone
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Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/22/2018 5:49:14 AM
The popular tendency to view the Somme as a specifically British experience just isn't the case-far from it is-it not only obscures the French contribution to what was intended to be a joint offensive 60 miles long across the Somme from Arras in the north to Lassignyin the south; , but also the wider context of coalition warfare of which the French were calling the shots.

Ten days after General Sir Douglas Haig was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.)The following day, 30th December, General Haig received a letter from General Joffre, pressing for the replacement of the French Tenth Army at Arras by the British.

Also, in the letter, General Joffre proposed a great combined Franco-British offensive astride the Somme river on a sixty mile front from Lassigny (30 miles south-east of Amiens) to Arras.He also suggested preliminary forays by the Britosh but Haig demurred as he was not ready

This was the beginning of a series of discussions about the British involvement in what was eventually to commit the British Expeditionary Force to a large-scale offensive on the Somme battlefield in the summer of 1916 ie 1st August was mooted.

Exactly one week after the decision to make the Allied Somme offensive the German Army launched an attack on the French front at Verdun on 21st February.

As requested by the French Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, and in view of the new pressure put on French forces defending Verdun, the British Army made preparations to take over the 20 miles of Front Line in the Arras sector held at that time by the French Tenth Army. The take-over was carried out from mid March 1916.Joffre also got Haig to start yhe Offensive on 12st July 1916; and become a side show to Verdun

Joffre was well awre that a major German offensive was imminent at Verdun-he had been informed of Falkenhayn's intentions by Dutch intelligence at the turn of the year--so what was this talk about a Major joint Anglo/French offensive across the Somme all about.??.I suspect that there was some deliberate chicanery involved in this matter but I do not think Haig noticed all that much which I shall demonstrate later.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/22/2018 9:27:46 AM
EXTRACTED FROM HAIG'S PRIVATE PAPERS

VI PLANS FOR THE SOMME

Verdun-Discussions with Kitchener -Haig and Joffre - Conference at Chantilly -
Kitchener's suspicion of the French- Haig and tanks- TheKingonSir J. French-
Haig attends Cabinet- His difficulties with the Canadians -Plans for the Somme
-Meets Clemenceau- Haig's anxiety about the French-Joffre urges an early
attack-Haig agrees -Criticises Sir H. Wilson-Meets Briand and Poincare-
Goes to London for discussions -Letter from Lord Esher 132


CONTENTS

VII THE SOMME: FIRST PHASE

The attack begins- Stormy scene with Joffre-Visit Jrom Northcliffe- Haig’s
favourable impression- Cabinet criticism of the Offensive -Haig’s reply -Mr.
Churchills Memorandum- The King visits Haig-The King’s views-A
teetotal luncheon - Friction with the French- Conference with French leaders -
Offensive renewed- Capture of Ginchy- The Prime Minister comes to dinner -
His convivial habits

VIII THE SOMME: SECOND PHASE

The Northcliffe Press-Visit of Lloyd George -Contrast with Asquith-Low
quality of French infantry -Success oj tanks -Discussions with Foch about Lloyd
George -Robertson on Lloyd George- Haig’s reply— Lord French visits foffre—
Haig s indignation -Haig s attitude to the Press- Robertson on future plans—
Haig andJoffre—Sir Eric Geddes-Problem of General Seely-Haiq writes to
foffre on plans for 1917 -Successful attack on Beaumont Hamel

IX PLANS FOR 1917

Conference at Chantilly -Haig and Lord Esher — Situation in the Channel—
Genet al Seely— Cabinet Crisis— Fall of Asquith— Haig’s plan for a Flanders
offensive accepted by the French -Nivelle replaces foffre -Haig sees Lloyd George
-First mectingwith Nivelle-Haig made a Field-Marshal- Northcliffe supports
Haig-Nivelle sproposals-Haig’sreply -Conference in London- Nivelle s plan
agreed -Haig and the Belgians -Bernard Shaw comes to lunch - General Maurice
on Lloyd George -Further discussion with Nivelle -Germans withdraw to
Hindenburg Line.

Looking at all of the text- one wonders if there ever was a Battle of the Somme-singularly devoind of any activity and the enormous butcher's bill.I think that Haig was much more interested in keeping himselfin the eye ofthose he wanted to be close to.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 3:13:32 AM
Jim,

To put the Battle of the Somme into its proper context it’s necessary to take into account the role it played in coalition strategy beyond the emit of the Western Front.

The thing was to be part of an enormous Allied effort extending from the fields of Picardy to the plains of Galicia, with the Russian effort being truly gigantic. The Italians would be pitching in, too.

The Chantilly Conference was planning to harmonise this, and ensure that coordinated effort by all allies on all fronts would overcome the Central Powers’ advantage of interior lines.

Tomorrow will mark the 102nd anniversary of the opening up of the artillery bombardment on the Somme.

Roses are blooming in Picardy....

Regards, Phil
---------------
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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 4:32:25 AM
Thank you for yr post which takes the wide view of coalition warfare.My poimt is much narrower -the French at Chantilly including the crafty old Joffre were well aware that they would be involved in a long battle with the Germans at Nerdun.

Thus Joffre's overtures to Haig:-1) the release of 10 th Army and 2) a combined Anglo/French major offensive across the Somme river -ie.60 miles Brits in the northern half and France n the southern half.This proposition was not a runner and Kitchener "smelt a rat".Haig in "his ivory tower" went along with it including the French given start date of 1st July 1916--anything for a quiet life I am sorry to say

When he did start he he found he was a sideshow tothe French Verdun-so why all the BS about a combined Allied Offensive?? I think Joffre hoodwinked Haig despite Kitchener's doubts. I got the impression from Haig's private papers that he was not much interested in the Battle of the Somme because he was like that --detached.AS GOC 1st Army he was was very much up to speed with his Army as per his notes; but he changed after gaining the coveteed post of CinC BEF.


[Read More]


Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 5:00:42 AM
Haig actually argued for a postponement until August, to allow the British more training and, crucially, a better and more powerful artillery. He was right about that.

Joffre went mad, and gave Haig a rough time.

If you get the chance, Jim, and your poor eyes allow you to, give more than a glance at what Haig writes about this in his private papers.

You will, I think, be surprised .

I hope that you’re recovering from that horrible eye surgery.

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
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 5:35:02 AM

Quote:
VII THE SOMME: FIRST PHASE

The attack begins- Stormy scene with Joffre.


Do you mean this Phil--this I must confess the above left me wondering what the "stormy scene" was about--I have to assume that it centred around the initial attack but that is purely guesswork.However I remain convinced that Haig was duped by Joffre.Do you not agree that it was strange that his notes made no mention of even the generality of this battle???

Thank you for your kind word about my eye injection--it is still sore--I go back on Tuesday next for the other eye.I guess you down in Swanage-is weather holding.????

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 6:55:31 AM
Part of Haig's Despatch including 1st day--Highly Evasive IMHO

Just prior to the attack the mines which had been prepared under the enemy’s lines were exploded, and smoke was discharged at many places along our front. Through this smoke our infantry advanced to the attack with the utmost steadiness, in spite of the very heavy barrage of the enemy’s guns. On our right our troops met with immediate success, and rapid progress was made. Before midday Montauban had been carried, and shortly afterwards the Briqueterie, to the east, and the whole of the ridge to the west of the village were in our hands. Opposite Mametz part of our assembly trenches had been practically levelled by the enemy artillery, making it necessary for our infantry to advance to the attack across 400 yards of open ground. Nonetheless they forced their way into Mametz, and reached their objective in the valley beyond, first throwing out a defensive flank towards Fricourt on their left. At the same time the enemy’s trenches were entered north of Fricourt, so that the enemy’s garrison in that village was pressed on three sides. Further north, though the villages of La Boisselle and Ovillers for the time being resisted our attack, our troops drove deeply into the German lines on the flanks of these strongholds, and so paved the way for their capture later. On the spur running south from Thiepval the work known as the Leipzig Salient was stormed, and severe fighting took place for the possession of the village and its defences. Here and north of the valley of the Ancre as far as Serre, on the left flank of our attack, our initial successes were not sustained. Striking progress was made at many points and parties of troops penetrated the enemy’s positions to the outer defences of Grandcourt, and also to Pendant Copse and Serre; but the enemy’s continued resistance at Thiepval and Beaumont Hamel made it impossible to forward reinforcements and ammunition, and, in spite of their gallant efforts, our troops were forced to withdraw during the night to their own lines.

Wot No Casualties!!???

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 7:48:46 AM

Quote:

Quote:
VII THE SOMME: FIRST PHASE

The attack begins- Stormy scene with Joffre.


Do you mean this Phil--this I must confess the above left me wondering what the "stormy scene" was about--I have to assume that it centred around the initial attack but that is purely guesswork.However I remain convinced that Haig was duped by Joffre.Do you not agree that it was strange that his notes made no mention of even the generality of this battle???

Thank you for your kind word about my eye injection--it is still sore--I go back on Tuesday next for the other eye.I guess you down in Swanage-is weather holding.????

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim,

Swanage beckons, but right now I’m in London.

The stormy scene I allude to occurred in the early summer, before the attack.

Haig suggested postponement until August, allowing for a proper array of heavy artillery to give his inexperienced soldiers a better chance.

At this Joffre exploded, thumped the table, and insisted that the Verdun fighting would destroy the French army unless the attack in Picardy was launched on the appointed date.

Not sure, but I think that this was late May.

Joffre was being disingenuous : he was pretty relaxed about Verdun, and felt that things there were under control : much to Petain’s vexation.

On another occasion, after the big battle had started, Joffre wanted the British to continue their big attacks in the northern sector along the Thiepval spur, where the slaughter of the British troops had been the worst and the failure most complete. Haig steadfastly refused to agree, and argued - successfully - that the British should focus their efforts in the southern sector of their attack, where things had gone much better. At this, Joffre became agitated and angry, but Haig held his nerve and the next phase of the fighting saw the British trying to exploit the successes they had made around the hamlets and woods in the southern sector.

I write this from memory, so any mistakes are mine.

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
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 8:07:00 AM
You have a b----- good memory Phil and thanks for sorting out the row between Haig and Joffre but what of Haig's attitude to this fearful battle .??


Quote:
General Douglas Haig continued to order further attacks on German positions at the Somme and on the 13th November the British Army captured the fortress at Beaumont Hamel.

However, heavy snow forced Haig to abandon his gains. With the winter weather deteriorating Haig now brought an end to the Somme offensive. Since the 1st July, the British has suffered 420,000 casualties. The French lost nearly 200,000 and it is estimated that German casualties were in the region of 500,000.

Allied forces gained some land but it reached only 12km at its deepest points. Despite mounting criticism over his all too obvious disregard of British lives, Haig survived as Commander-in-Chief. One of the main reasons for this was the support he received from Northcliffe's newspapers.
Britannica

A charmed life indeed !!!

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 9:26:27 AM
Jim,

Beware of those “Blackadder” caricatures of remote and callous chateau bound generals who ordered senseless attacks and supped on port and brandy while their men died in thousands.

I fear that you have been seduced by these depictions of Haig’s generalship.

You don’t want the works of Joan Littlewood to define your perceptions, do you ?

All too obvious disregard of British lives .

Not fair.

Ask a man to make an omelette, and then complain about the breaking of eggs.

Haig had a tendency to optimism. He was also being told what he wanted to hear. He believed he was receiving divine guidance . His virtues matched his flaws.
Both were significant.

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
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 10:31:22 AM
I honestly thought that Britannica would be sound and fair in it's reportsge-however I will take what you have said under advisement.I freely confess to have no liking for Haig but stop at lying about him.

I would like to discuss the preparation for this Battle if you are willing and fair ie 1.Formation of 4th Army under Rawlinson.
2 The Pre attack barrage which for the most part did not cut the German wire.The timing of the cessation of the barrage.
3 The blowing of whistles all down the trenchlines.
4 the The amount of gear rach soldier was to carry.
5 The attacking troops were to to walk towards the enemy lines because all defenders were assumed to be dead.

Surely this was all nonsense but where did it all come from and was there no checks made on the state of the German wire ???

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 10:31:22 AM
I honestly thought that Britannica would be sound and fair in it's reportsge-however I will take what you have said under advisement.I freely confess to have no liking for Haig but stop at lying about him.

I would like to discuss the preparation for this Battle if you are willing and fair ie 1.Formation of 4th Army under Rawlinson.
2 The Pre attack barrage which for the most part did not cut the German wire.The timing of the cessation of the barrage.
3 The blowing of whistles all down the trenchlines.
4 the The amount of gear rach soldier was to carry.
5 The attacking troops were to to walk towards the enemy lines because all defenders were assumed to be dead.

Surely this was all nonsense but where did it all come from and was there no checks made on the state of the German wire ???

Regards

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

anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 10:31:26 AM
I honestly thought that Britannica would be sound and fair in it's reportsge-however I will take what you have said under advisement.I freely confess to have no liking for Haig but stop at lying about him.

I would like to discuss the preparation for this Battle if you are willing and fair ie 1.Formation of 4th Army under Rawlinson.
2 The Pre attack barrage which for the most part did not cut the German wire.The timing of the cessation of the barrage.
3 The blowing of whistles all down the trenchlines.
4 the The amount of gear rach soldier was to carry.
5 The attacking troops were to to walk towards the enemy lines because all defenders were assumed to be dead.

Surely this was all nonsense but where did it all come from and was there no checks made on the state of the German wire ???

Regards

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

anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 10:31:29 AM
I honestly thought that Britannica would be sound and fair in it's reportsge-however I will take what you have said under advisement.I freely confess to have no liking for Haig but stop at lying about him.

I would like to discuss the preparation for this Battle if you are willing and fair ie 1.Formation of 4th Army under Rawlinson.
2 The Pre attack barrage which for the most part did not cut the German wire.The timing of the cessation of the barrage.
3 The blowing of whistles all down the trenchlines.
4 the The amount of gear rach soldier was to carry.
5 The attacking troops were to to walk towards the enemy lines because all defenders were assumed to be dead.

Surely this was all nonsense but where did it all come from and was there no checks made on the state of the German wire ???

Regards

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 10:31:29 AM
I honestly thought that Britannica would be sound and fair in it's reportsge-however I will take what you have said under advisement.I freely confess to have no liking for Haig but stop at lying about him.I do not think Sir John Keegan nor Sir Basil Liddell-Hart et al-they surely cannot all be wrong== just as the pro Haigs cannot always be right and I know certainly are not anti.

I would like to discuss the preparation for this Battle if you are willing and fair ie 1.Formation of 4th Army under Rawlinson.
2 The Pre attack barrage which for the most part did not cut the German wire.The timing of the cessation of the barrage.
3 The blowing of whistles all down the trenchlines.
4 the The amount of gear rach soldier was to carry.
5 The attacking troops were to to walk towards the enemy lines because all defenders were assumed to be dead.

Surely this was all nonsense but where did it all come from and was there no checks made on the state of the German wire ???

Regards

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

Jim Cameron
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 11:26:00 AM
My understanding is that there was actually considerable variation from division to division as to how the initial advances were conducted. Some had their men crawl well out into no-man's-land before the opening bombardment started.
Cutting of the German wire was indeed very uneven, but this was probably due as much as anything else to the artillery having yet to the best techniques and mix of ammunition for the job. Put another way, as far as the BEF was concerned, 1916 was still early in the game. 1918 was still a couple of years off.
---------------
Jim Cameron

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

Jim Cameron
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 11:47:24 AM

Quote:
Jim,

Beware of those “Blackadder” caricatures of remote and callous chateau bound generals who ordered senseless attacks and supped on port and brandy while their men died in thousands.

I fear that you have been seduced by these depictions of Haig’s generalship.

You don’t want the works of Joan Littlewood to define your perceptions, do you ?

All too obvious disregard of British lives .

Not fair.

Ask a man to make an omelette, and then complain about the breaking of eggs.

Haig had a tendency to optimism. He was also being told what he wanted to hear. He believed he was receiving divine guidance . His virtues matched his flaws.
Both were significant.

Regards, Phil
--Phil andrade


Couldn't agree more. What was the comment? "No matter what you do, you're going to loose a lot of men."

A chateau, btw, wasn't actually a bad place to command from. A senior commander needed space for his headquarters staff, maps, meeting rooms, and communications. Plus, he needed to at a known location, where people could find him, especially during an offensive, when communication with the front were very likely to be distrupted. Being seen by the troops was all well and good, but a battle can't be run from a forward command post.


---------------
Jim Cameron

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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 12:30:04 PM
Thank yo Jim for your informative post.It my understanding that only the 36th (Ulster) Division -against orders; lay out all night on the white start tapes and therefore were smartly off their marks when the attack went in. They they quickly overwhelmed the German front and support trenches.

This sadly was their downfall-- because their own flanking Divisions had not followed suit; and they were completely isolated and soon in serious trouble from enemy flanking fire which caused many casualties.They tried to make a stand but were overwhelmed.Their bold venture thus ended in abject failure

Vis a vis shelling cutting wire -HE just tosses the wire all over the place and makes it a worse obstacle. Shrapnel can cut wire; but as you point out, British artillery fire as yet had much to learn to improve.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 12:45:35 PM

Quote:
A chateau, btw, wasn't actually a bad place to command from. A senior commander needed space for his headquarters staff, maps, meeting rooms, and communications. Plus, he needed to at a known location, where people could find him, especially during an offensive, when communication with the front were very likely to be distrupted. Being seen by the troops was all well and good, but a battle can't be run from a forward command post.


Jim-No- a CinC cannot run a battle from a Command Post; but he could and should meet with the relevant Army Commander and Corps and Division commanders involved in a particular military action at say- Army HQ -some 20 miles from the front to ensure that "all are singing from the same song sheet"

Regards

Jim.
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MikeMeech
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 1:25:32 PM

Quote:
Thank yo Jim for your informative post.It my understanding that only the 36th (Ulster) Division -against orders; lay out all night on the white start tapes and therefore were smartly off their marks when the attack went in. They they quickly overwhelmed the German front and support trenches.

This sadly was their downfall-- because their own flanking Divisions had not followed suit; and they were completely isolated and soon in serious trouble from enemy flanking fire which caused many casualties.They tried to make a stand but were overwhelmed.Their bold venture thus ended in abject failure

Vis a vis shelling cutting wire -HE just tosses the wire all over the place and makes it a worse obstacle. Shrapnel can cut wire; but as you point out, British artillery fire as yet had much to learn to improve.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Hi Jim

Not according to the research of Prior and Wilson, contained in their book 'The Somme', page 115, which states:

"...for the 80 battalions that went over the top in the first attack on 1 July, 53 crept out into no man's land close to the German wire before zero and then rushed the German line, while ten others rushed the line from their own parapet."

Some of those battalions who walked at a steady pace were actually following a 'creeping' barrage, in the south of the line these were some of the more successful on the day.

Mike

anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 1:43:13 PM
Hi Mike--I am sure that you are correct; but I was addressing Jim Cameron's point about Divisional activity ie 36th (Ulster) Division being left in a no ,ans land of their own making and being shot to pieces. This is not to say that I am 100% accurate; but it had stuck in my mind. My thanks anyway -I have never known you to be wrong.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 2:42:44 PM
British Fourth Army Formed

On 1st March 1916 the British Fourth Army was formed with General Sir Henry Rawlinson as its commander. Headquarters was established in a chateau at Querrieu on the Albert-Amiens road.

The Front Line held by Fourth Army was from Fonquevillers in the north to the Somme river. At the beginning of June the French Sixth Army took over a short section of British-held Front Line north of the Somme river as far as the west of Maricourt village.

This was done to remove a potential weakness in the Allied Front, whereby the Somme river was forming the boundary between the two Allied forces and General Joffre was concerned that a gap might be forced here by the Germans between the British and French as they were carring out the forthcoming offensive.

The Fourth Army on the first day on the Somme, eleven Fourth Army divisions (from XIII Corps, XV Corps, III Corps, X Corps and VIII Corps) attacked astride the Albert–Bapaume road.

The attack was completely defeated on the northern sector, so subsequent Fourth Army operations concentrated on the southern sector, handing control of the northern sector to the Reserve Army.

Regards

Jim



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Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/23/2018 2:59:56 PM
Haig’s reputation has suffered because he is alleged to have been indifferent to casualties.

I think it fairer to say that he was reconciled to them, which is very different from being indifferent.

It didn’t help when he recorded his view that forty thousand British casualties had been sustained in the first two days of the battle . He emphasised that this could not be considered as excessive given the scale and intensity of the fighting. We know, of course, that he was grotesquely mistaken : the casualties on the first day alone amounted to 57,470. It took months of investigation before that figure could be established.....but the damage was done ; Haig was seen to have been not only complacent, but out of touch.

He wrote a letter to Rawlinson at the end of July 1916 summarising the results of the first month of the offensive, and stated that the casualties were 120,000 more than they would have been if we had not attacked , which implies that the cost of routine warfare was in the order of sixty to eighty thousand casualties per month.

Haig is clearly aware of the enormity of the casualties, but is determined to put the most positive interpretation on them .

He took consolation in reports of German casualties that were greatly inflated .

Regards, Phil
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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/24/2018 4:06:46 AM
Western Front casualties-July–December 1916-Monthly Casualties
July 196,081
August 75,249
September 115,056
October 66,852
November 46,238
December 13,803

Total
British 513,289
Frenchc. 434,000
Total:Anglo-French c. 947,289

German c. 719,000

Grand total c. 1,666,289.

I an inclined to say that Haigc being a stoic and quite unemotional- was indifferent about casualties of war .It was in his nature NOT to be emotionally disturbed by the enormous butcher's bill--this was war and this happens-like it or not; BUT he could have cut short this battle by not fighting on n the Ancre.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/24/2018 5:01:59 AM
Regarding the initial assault on 1st July-58,000 casualties (19,240 killed) were sustained by 4th Army troops-why was this day different to other days-was it down to too much warning given to the enemy that an attack was imminent-via the cessation of the barrage and the scores of whistles blown to get the attackers on their way.

The British force consisted of soldiers from Britain and Ireland, as well as troops from Newfoundland, South Africa and India. The British generals staged a massive artillery bombardment and sent 100,000 men over the top to take the German trenches. They were confident of victory.

But the British soldiers were unable to break through the German defences and were mown down in their thousands by machine gun and artillery fire.

This day set a bloody precedent: the Somme campaign wore on for five months and, in all, more than a million soldiers from the British, German and French armies were wounded or killed.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/24/2018 2:21:38 PM

Quote:
Regarding the initial assault on 1st July-58,000 casualties (19,240 killed) were sustained by 4th Army troops-why was this day different to other days-was it down to too much warning given to the enemy that an attack was imminent-via the cessation of the barrage and the scores of whistles blown to get the attackers on their way.

The British force consisted of soldiers from Britain and Ireland, as well as troops from Newfoundland, South Africa and India. The British generals staged a massive artillery bombardment and sent 100,000 men over the top to take the German trenches. They were confident of victory.

But the British soldiers were unable to break through the German defences and were mown down in their thousands by machine gun and artillery fire.

This day set a bloody precedent: the Somme campaign wore on for five months and, in all, more than a million soldiers from the British, German and French armies were wounded or killed.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim,

Why was this day different from other days ?

The scale of the attack necessarily entailed the risk of commensurate casuaties. The ineffectiveness of the bombardment has to be accorded pride of place in the pantheon of failure. There must have been other reasons, too...but I reckon the performance of artillery was the presiding factor in determining the success or failure of infantry to accomplish tasks at acceptable cost. As to what that word “ acceptable” implies....we could open a thread about that.

There is a book by Nick Lloyd about the Battle of Loos in 1915, and if my memory serves me, he analysed the losses on September 25th 1915, and compared them with those of July1st, 1916. The Loos battle was smaller, but the number of deaths per division that attacked that day rivalled - or even exceeded - those of their counterparts on the first day of the Somme. I have to say that I’m a bit circumspect about that....but I’m sure that Lloyd is right to make us aware that other days exposed British troops to massacre. It was, to a degree, just a question of scale.

Regards, Phil

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scoucer
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/24/2018 2:28:54 PM
I remember reading but I can´t think where that because of the lack of labour units that many troops were exhausted by the digging and preparations long before the 1st July. Can anybody help me here ?

Trevor
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 3:14:29 AM

Quote:
Some troops in carrying platoons had about 66 lb (30 kg) of equipment and tools, whereas troops in the advanced platoons carried a rifle, bayonet, 170 rounds of ammunition, iron ration (an emergency ration of preserved food, tea, sugar and salt), two grenades, pick, shovel or entrenching tool, four empty sandbags, two gas helmets, wire cutters, a smoke candle and a water-bottle.

In the French army, the experience of 1915 showed that despite the power of French bombardments, infantry would enter a chaotic environment, full of German pockets of resistance and individuals who had been by-passed. By mid-1916 much of the French infantry in the Sixth Army had been trained as specialists, as rifle-and-bayonet men, bombers, rifle grenadiers or light machine-gun crews.

Attacking waves were spread wider and companies trained to manoeuvre in small groups, to get behind surviving German defences, as Nettoyeurs de Tranchées (trench cleaners) armed with hand-grenades and revolvers, searched captured ground for stray Germans and hidden machine-gunners, although such methods did not come into general use until later in the year.
Britannica

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 4:07:38 AM
Jim,

Please cite the source that you’ve pasted above.

I know that in mid 1916, french officers were referring to british tactics as infantile .

That’s a pretty damning indictment ; but it does account, in large degree, for the conspicuous failure of the British attacks on 1 July 1916 ( with, it must be emphasised, some notable exceptions), and the brilliant french successes in the southern sectors of the battle.

The British suffered 57,470 casualties and captured 2,200 prisoners ; the French suffered perhaps as few as 2,500 casualties, and were said to have taken 4,000 prisoners. Infantilism came at an appalling price !

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

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Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 4:08:54 AM

Quote:
I remember reading but I can´t think where that because of the lack of labour units that many troops were exhausted by the digging and preparations long before the 1st July. Can anybody help me here ?

Trevor
--scoucer



That’s something new to me, Trevor. I’m going to try and find out.

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 5:04:41 AM
"Some troops in carrying platoons had about 66 lb (30 kg) of equipment and tools, whereas troops in the advanced platoons carried a rifle, bayonet, 170 rounds of ammunition, iron ration (an emergency ration of preserved food, tea, sugar and salt), two grenades, pick, shovel or entrenching tool, four empty sandbags, two gas helmets, wire cutters, a smoke candle and a water-bottle."

Surely this was a nonsense- even in 1916- for assaulting infantry to be thus burdened.It is little wonder that Rawlinsom really had fully appraised what had been done in 1916 was not repeated in 1918.

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 6:51:08 AM

Quote:

Quote:
I remember reading but I can´t think where that because of the lack of labour units that many troops were exhausted by the digging and preparations long before the 1st July. Can anybody help me here ?

Trevor
--scoucer



That’s something new to me, Trevor. I’m going to try and find out.

Regards, Phil
--Phil andrade


The Canadian Corps did not organize labour battalions until Dec. 1916 and early 1917.

These men were made up of soldiers who could work but were not fit for fighting.

They came under the command of the British Director of Labour and worked with the Railway Battalions and so I presume that the British had a great number of these labour battalions.

It wasn't until Nov. of 1917 that two of the four CDN Labour battalions were attached to the Corps.

However, I am unsure as to what their duties were, once attached. There are plenty of stories of infantry hauling supplies up to the trenches from the last spot that they could have been delivered by rail or wagon.

EDIT: A short description of the attack by the Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel. Note the weight of the carry for each man as the attack went in. Were the British forces still asking combat troops to carry weight like that in 1917.


Quote:
At 7:30 a.m. on July 1, 1916, a week-long bombardment of German positions on the Somme came to an end. Then, the first of 60,000 men began advancing into "No Man's Land" along the British 4th Army's 24-kilometre front. Many German defenders had survived the bombardment and soon began raking this area with machine-gun, artillery and rifle fire. Despite this, the British attacks continued. At 9:05 a.m., the Newfoundland Regiment members of the British Expeditionary Force advanced near the village of Beaumont Hamel. To reach the enemy's trenches they had to cross as much as 800 metres of open ground. Each man carried more than 25 kilograms of food, supplies and ammunition. Few survived for long in "No Man's Land." Shortly after 10:00 a.m., the British attack was called off. Despite some initial successes, the day's objectives had not been achieved.[/quote

Cheers,

George

MikeMeech
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 7:39:22 AM

Quote:
"Some troops in carrying platoons had about 66 lb (30 kg) of equipment and tools, whereas troops in the advanced platoons carried a rifle, bayonet, 170 rounds of ammunition, iron ration (an emergency ration of preserved food, tea, sugar and salt), two grenades, pick, shovel or entrenching tool, four empty sandbags, two gas helmets, wire cutters, a smoke candle and a water-bottle."

Surely this was a nonsense- even in 1916- for assaulting infantry to be thus burdened.It is little wonder that Rawlinsom really had fully appraised what had been done in 1916 was not repeated in 1918.

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi Jim

Your quote mentions that 'carrying platoons' would carry more than the 'advanced platoons' (assault platoons?), is that not an obvious point, the 'carrying platoons' were tasked with carrying supplies over no-man's land to re-supply the assault troops with ammunition, water, food and other supplies so they are going to carry about 66 lb, it was their job!
For the 'advanced troops', if you think the equipment they carried was too heavy what would have to be removed, all the items mentioned could be classed as 'essential' to them on reaching the enemy lines? It did not change much in 1918.

Mike


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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 9:13:32 AM
I see clearly what you say Mike and do understand the sensibility of the idea; BUT did it WORK on Day1 ????? I would expect the stormtroops of 1918 to be resupplied with all manner of food and other necessities; but surely these carriers were not going in with the storm troops.????

Regards

Jim
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Jim Cameron
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 10:48:20 AM
66 pounds would actually be a fairly typical load for a WW1 infantryman. Current day infantry often carry well over 100 pounds of gear.
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 11:57:00 AM
I see what you are saying Jim but to compare today' s infantry with that of a hundrted years ago is "chalk and cheese".The fighting is obviously quite dissimilar-open close contact warfare with infantry armed with rifle and bayonet as opposed to todays soldiers usually fighting a covert war.

Regards

Jim '
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MikeMeech
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 3:16:06 PM

Quote:
I see clearly what you say Mike and do understand the sensibility of the idea; BUT did it WORK on Day1 ????? I would expect the stormtroops of 1918 to be resupplied with all manner of food and other necessities; but surely these carriers were not going in with the storm troops.????

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Hi Jim

The first lot of 'stores' was meant to go in with the last wave of the assault, then dedicated teams and 'follow on' units would bring the re-supply forward. There would always be a danger that enemy artillery and MG fire could prevent supplies going forward.

The German 'Stormtroops' were not that lightly equipped, the 'light' MG08/15 weighed 22kg (loaded Lewis 14kg) and the 'light' Flammenwerfer 31kg, they would still need to carry water/iron rations, flares etc. Also the tactic did not necessarily save on casualties, 40,000 on the first day of Operation MICHAEL, many of the Stormtroops hit by MG fire, artillery etc. despite the Germans having a numerical superiority in troops and artillery at the point of attack and the 'helpful' mist. Operation MARS failed early on due, partially, to the German artillery missing and failing to neutralise the British artillery and MG positions, who then hit the German troops, sound familiar?

Mike

MikeMeech
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 3:37:29 PM

Quote:
I see what you are saying Jim but to compare today' s infantry with that of a hundrted years ago is "chalk and cheese".The fighting is obviously quite dissimilar-open close contact warfare with infantry armed with rifle and bayonet as opposed to todays soldiers usually fighting a covert war.

Regards

Jim '
--anemone


Hi

'Covert war', Fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan did not look that 'covert'. Infantry were fighting in built up areas, attacking defended compounds, advancing by fire and movement over open ground towards a defended position etc. carrying quite a lot of kit in 'fighting order'.
Even in the 1970s and 80s, with 58 pattern webbing, 'fighting order' you would be carrying not only 7.62 mm ammo for your SLR, but also rations, water, NBC kit, 44 pattern steel helmet etc. (body armour only in NI, first just 'flak jackets' then heavier in the 80s with ceramic plates inserted as well as the 'jacket') that all mounted up in weight. In the 90s when I was recalled equipped with 'Soldier 95' kit, SA.80, 5.56mm ammo (lighter rounds so you carry more than with 7.62mm, so no real reduction in weight) new 'GRP' helmet and quite heavy body armour.
By the time of the Afghanistan operations it appears a lot of 'communication' equipment has been added to the normal soldiers attire and with the batteries needed it is all an increase in weight (not to mention helmet cameras for real time filming).

The same thing was seen during WW1, while attempts were made to keep the weight carried down for the individual soldier (this is mentioned quite often in documents of the time), added equipment kept appearing, two Lewis guns per platoon in 1918 meant they and the ammo had to be carried, the important rifle grenades and dischargers also needed to be carried, along with SBR, rations, water, flares, various different types of grenades, entrenching equipment etc. A saving of weight in one area does not mean you will end up carrying less.

Weight of equipment will always burden the soldier.

Mike

Phil andrade
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 5:09:46 PM
Weight of equipment will always burden the soldier .

When - and where - did infantrymen become known as “ Grunts” ?

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Jim Cameron
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Re: Battle of the Somme 1916 --A Preliminary Preamble
Posted on: 6/25/2018 5:43:47 PM

Quote:
Weight of equipment will always burden the soldier .

When - and where - did infantrymen become known as “ Grunts” ?

Regards,Phil
--Phil andrade


I believe it first became common during Vietnam.
Now, you've also got "POG's", for "Persons Other Than Grunts."

The fact is, a fit soldier can physically carry considerable weight, with packboards and other load bearing equipment. The trick is finding a balance between what he can carry, while still being able to maneuver and fight effectively.
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Jim Cameron

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