Battle of the Somme

The battle of Somme is one of the most bloodiest battle in World War I, resulting in a total of around 1200,000 casualties and 25 miles gained(Imperial War Museum Archive). The battle was a combined attack from the English and french armies spanning 5 months long(Great Canadian Battle). The colonies of Britain aided it’s army in this assault. The Australian and New Zealand corp entered in the beginning of the battle, while the 3rd division of the Canadian expedition which I served in was only redirected in late august(NICHOLSON, G. W. L 186). The battle of Somme had poor strategy and little gain and the casualties and cost was great, it had great significance and profound impact in the allied victory and it’s future battles.

The battle of Somme was heavily influence by Joseph Joffre commander of the French army in the western front(NICHOLSON, G. W. L 184). On February 21 1916, the German fifth army attacked the fortress of Verdun. With heavy casualties and extended periods of battle ahead, Joffre persuaded general Douglas Haig;who favored an assault near the Lys river(Canadian Encyclopedia). The plans for a offensive to relieve pressure from Verdun and draw German soldiers was made, the position was decided at Somme where the french and English armies met. With the defense of Verdun, the french could not contribute a large army(Canadian Encyclopedia). The british army made of 21 divisions, was fighting the three heavily fortified German line spanning 24 miles(NICHOLSON, G. W. L 187). The strategy of the Somme offensive was simple, a heavy artillery bombardment and gas followed with a steady infantry and cavalry assault. The battle of Somme began on July 1 1916 with a seven day bombardment on the first two German front, it’s objectives to cut through the barbed wires and destroy German resistance(Summing up the Somme). First day on the Sommes was disastrous, the bombardment failed to destroy any major defenses and the joint army suffered 60,000 casualties. The Germans from Verdun quickly reinforced the Somme and Verdun was relieved(Canadian Encyclopedia).

Canadian soldier

The 3 divisions of the Canadian was stationed at Ypres until august 30, where the three divisions were called to replenish the rapid loss of manpower on the Somme(Taylor, David). We reached the Somme in the beginning of September and captured a series of trenches.

Battle of Flers-Courcelette

The first large scale battle was the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the objective was to puncture holes in the German defenses. The Canadian corp attacked south of Thiepval and Courcelette. Although no breaks in enemy lines were made we captured the villages Courcelette, and Fler(NICHOLSON, G. W. L.191). Our success in battle was the result of the innovative creeping barrage and the introduction of tanks(NICHOLSON, G. W. L.191). General Haig issued 49 tanks of which only 32 made it on to the front lines, 7 of the 32 broke down(NICHOLSON, G. W. L.191). The tanks frightened the Germans although little did it advance in the muddy and cratered fields of no man’s land. The creeping barrage is an new and effective strategy used in the battle, where the artillery would fire as the we attack and advance with the soldiers farther into enemy territory to prevent and stop counter attacks.

The battle of Thiepval Ridge began September 22 is the second important battle that we fought in the Somme offensive. Thiepval Ridge is a heavily fortified high ground occupied by the Germans. We were split into two forces one which attacked the Kenora trench north of Courcelette;the other which attacked Thiepval. The battle on Thiepval commenced with a 3 day barrage and heavy uses of tear gas(NICHOLSON, G. W. L.217). After days of fighting the battle ended on September 26 and mine and many brigade was relieved.

The third battle of the Somme offensive; the battle of ancre heights, began on October 1(NICHOLSON, G. W. L.210). The objective was to capture Regina trench. The Canadian corps attacked on October 1 and October 8, due to heavy rainfall, Canadians suffered heavy casualties and no success. After a long period of pause, the battle continued on october 21(NICHOLSON, G. W. L.210). Beginning with a rain of artillery the Canadians captured sections of the trench, and slowly advanced. The battle concluded on November 11 with the capture of the eastern section of Regina trench(Taylor David).

roughly 88,000 casualties per mile of ground gained

The battle of Ancre is the last battle beginning on Nov 13. This battle concluded the battle of Somme. Canadian forces grouped and pushed to complete the Regina trench and Desire trench. The battle began with a 30000-pound mine followed by artillery(NICHOLSON, G. W. L.222). After a 5 day battle ending on November 18 heavy rainfall stopped further battles, concluding the battle of somme after 5 months of fighting. The Anglo-French army resulted in 62834 casualties and roughly the same on German side. The allied army pushed

British Tank

The battle of Somme has proved to be the most bloodiest and costly battles of World War I, but it’s contribution to the victory is weighty. First, the battle has successfully relieved and saved the fortress of Verdun and prevented much of Germany’s army from advancing on the western front. Second, the battle contributed to the allied victory by wearing down equal amount of German soldiers in casualties. Many of the German soldiers were the experienced officers.On opposite sides, the soldiers that survived the Somme offensive has been hardened by battle and prove instrumental in later victories. Thirdly, the battle raised the allied attention towards importance of tactics and innovative methods in war. These lesson would lead to the perfection of tanks as a war machine and instruct the allies to better design and prepare battles.

The battle of Somme resulted in around 600,000 casualties(Larkin G.W) on both the anglo-french and the German side. It’s significance of attracting German soldier to aid the whole western front, wearing down the size of Germany’s army, and paving path for future tactics makes its a bloody but crucial battle in the victory of the allies.

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