How Far Do You Agree With The Opinion That The Battle Of The Somme In 1916 Was A Total Disaster For Britain And Her Army In France Essay

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How far do you agree with the opinion that the Battle of the Somme in 1916 was a total disaster for Britain and her army in France? The Battle of the Somme was a battle launched by the French and British in 1916. It was an attack of the German front lines by Sir Douglas Haig who ultimately aimed to push back and kill as many enemy soldiers as possible. Personally he believed that the offensive could be won in a matter of hours, infact a seven day artillery bombardment followed by 60,000 british casualties. Many understand the battle to have been a total disaster for the army as the British were thoroughly defeated. This can be portrayed by Source G, source G suggests that the army
‘was and would remain their [The British Armies] greatest military tragedy of the twentieth century’. Source G has relative provenance as it is a published book using the correct war figures, yet it wasn't published until 1998, so cold have been interpreted differently as many years had since passed from the battle. Here it is however portrayed that the army took no success out of the battle and suffered defeats from all angles. This is the impression also given in the casualty numbers. In the Battle of the Somme as from the 1st July to Nov, there was 420,000 British casualties, which in context is the current population of Somerset, a significant dent, two thirds of the British army. Source I also suggests that the Battle was a complete disaster ‘it was the first time Britain had come to grips with its real enemy,
Germany’. This gives the impression that Britain was unprepared for the battle and hence it was badly fought and many casualties occurred. This is also suggested as Britain only advanced 7 miles over a 30 miles stretch. Source I has an interesting validity. It originated from a German Intelligence Report. This suggests that the report was sure to disregard any advancements from the British and only focus on the strengths of the Germans. Yet on the other hand, although the report dams the British Army and suggest that the Germans were
‘self­satisfied’ it can be valid in answering the question focus as it was written only two years later in 1917 and cross references correctly with the other sources. It can also be suggested that the Battle of the Somme was a disaster for the British Army due to the failure of the tanks, which Haig had placed so much faith in. In the September Haig brought in the tank, these new
49 tanks were a surprise by Haig to obliterate the Germans. Yet these tanks only covered
3,500 yards and most of them broke down on the first day, just slowing the British Army up, definitely not the ‘war winning’ machines which Haig had hoped for. Source H does also to some extent support the understanding that the Battle of the Somme was a disaster for the
British army. It suggests that it ‘was Haig’s initial attempt to achieve a breakthrough on the 1st
July that was a failure’. Although this source suggests that the initial conflict was a disaster for all of the same reasons discussed above, this source also suggests that the lessons learnt from the battle were plentiful and contributed to the overall success of world war one. Yet this source does agree with the focus to some extent suggesting that the Battle of the Somme was a disaster, yet not a ‘total’ disaster in the long term. Source H can also be concluded to be valid in answering the question focus, as it comes from a historians writing is set to put about preconceptions about the victories and failures of the first world war. One of the

greatest quotes to come out of the first world war was ‘lions led by donkeys’. This quotes aptly explains just why the Battle of the Somme was such a disaster for the British. The quote suggests how the battle was a disaster as those in authority didn't take responsibility. Those in command, such as Haig and General Rees didn't plan the battle well enough ‘commanders at all levels could