Friday, July 1, 2016

The Somme


For John, BLUFGastly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Battle of the Some

The Battle of the Somme started on 1 July 1916, with British and French forces advancing toward the German lines.  But, the artillery preparation (designed to cut barbed wire and destroy entrenchments) began five days earlier.  It was a terrible carnage, as the tables below show.

Here is the Wikipedia entry:

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire.  It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of upper reaches of the River Somme in France.  It was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front; more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
The original plan for the Battle was upset by the Battle of Verdun:
When the Imperial German Army began the Battle of Verdun on the Meuse on 21 February 1916, French commanders diverted many of the divisions intended for the Somme and the "supporting" attack by the British became the principal effort.
The first day on the Somme (1 July) saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army, which was forced out of its first position by the French Sixth Army, from Foucaucourt-en-Santerre south of the Somme to Maricourt on the north bank and by the Fourth Army from Maricourt to the vicinity of the Albert–Bapaume road. The first day on the Somme was also the worst day in the history of the British army, which had c. 57,470 casualties, mainly on the front between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt, where the attack was defeated and few British troops reached the German front line. The British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army, the Territorial Force and the Kitchener Army, which was composed of Pals battalions, recruited from the same places and occupations.
The importance of the Pals battalions was that if a unit was wiped out in the advance, then all or most of the young men from a single village or town might be wiped out.  A whole generation lost.

It should be noted that air power was important to the battle and it was the first use of the tank.

A German officer wrote,

Somme.  The whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word.
— Friedrich Steinbrecher
Somme casualties

NationalityTotal casualtiesKilled & missingPOW
United Kingdom350,000+
Canada24,029
Australia23,000< 200
New Zealand7,408
South Africa3,000+
Newfoundland2,000+
Total British Commonwealth419,65495,675
French204,25350,756
Total Allied623,907146,431
German465,000164,05538,000

Western Front Casualties
July–December 1916

That is, the Somme and all the other fighting in France along the whole front.

MonthCasualties
July 196,081
August 75,249
September 115,056
October 66,852
November 46,238
December 13,803
Total British513,289
Frenchc. 434,000
Total: Anglo-Frenchc. 947,289
German c. 719,000
Grand totalc. 1,666,289

And yet this war went on for just a week shy of two more years.

And this war paved the way for the next.

Regards  —  Cliff

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