The Battle of the Somme

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The Battle of the Somme was planned as a joint British and French campaign in late 1915. Primary responsibility for the attack plans fell on the French Commander in Chief, Joffre. Joffre had initiated the idea as a method of engaging the German reserve forces and draining German resources through a protracted war of attrition while the goal of gaining ground was a secondary consideration.


Public support was in jeopardy of waning while contemplating a war with no end. The Allied plan was to launch three major offensive campaigns in 1916 and the Battle of the Somme was chosen as the site of the Western Front war effort.
In February 1916 the Germans initiated the offensive on Verdun. This major assault drained French forces that were intended to participate in the Somme offensive. With the French concentrating their efforts at Verdun, operational planning fell to the British under Haig. Haig took great care in planning a detailed attack with the aid of General Rawlinson of the Fourth Army who was to lead the attack. Originally planned to commence on August 1, 1916, the date was moved up to July 1 in an effort to pull the German army from Verdun and take pressure off the French forces.
The Western Front of World War I is often characterized as a long running stalemate and a war of attrition with no clear turning point. It was highlighted by battles and engagements that often had no clear victor and offered little advancement for either side. The Battle of the Somme, designed to drain the German forces, was a success from that standpoint but was only realized at a very high cost.
By the end of World War I, the allies had won the economic war. ...
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