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The Battle of the Somme - Essay Example

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The Battle of the Somme

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....
Many battles on the Western Front added to the German defeat, but the Somme offered other and more intangible gains, such as redefined tactics and the tank.
By 1916 more modern weapons, naval power, and air power had altered the face of warfare. These contributions to the war were countered with newer battlefield tactics on both sides. The British perfected trench warfare with a central command at Yrpes. The inability of the Germans to gain ground against the British necessitated a reassessment of battlefield tactics by the Germans. Meanwhile the German's had lost precious men and resources.
The battle at Verdun in 1916 was yet another drain on German resources. The German plan was to "bleed white" the French army. Repeated attacks were launched against the heavily fortified Verdun with no follow up attacks. After five months of intense slaughter, the French loss was 460,000 and the Germans had lost 300,000. Though the French lost more men, the Germans lost many of their best troops and were not in a position to stand the loss. The reduction in German forces put them at a disadvantage at the Battle of the Somme.
As the stalemate drug on through 1917 and 1918, the German homefront had been cut off by blockades and the population was hungry and tired of the war. German troops were underfed and ill equipped. The final allied assaults at Rheims and Argonne, the turning points toward victory in 1918, were against an overpowered and weary German army worn down by the war of attrition that began in Somme. The Germans had been economically defeated by the tactics and tanks developed at Somme. With the continuous wearing away at the enemy, its difficult to recognize a defining moment when the balance tipped, but the resolve and innovation ...Show more

Summary

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…
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The Battle of the Somme essay example
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