90th Anniverary of the Somme

Discussion in 'World War I' started by syscom3, Jun 30, 2006.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Less we forget, July 1st is the 90th anniverary of that hellish battle.

    ....the British suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead — the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.....

    Yikes!!!!!! Thats like taking almost all the casualties in the fight for Normandy and putting them into one days slaughter.

    BBC - History - Battle of the Somme: 1 July - 13 November 1916

    "Battle of the Somme: 1 July - 13 November 1916

    Intended to be a decisive breakthrough, the Battle of the Somme instead became a byword for futile and indiscriminate slaughter, with General Haig's tactics remaining controversial even today.

    The British planned to attack on a 24km (15 mile) front between Serre, north of the Ancre, and Curlu, north of the Somme. Five French divisions would attack an 13km (eight mile) front south of the Somme, between Curlu and Peronne. To ensure a rapid advance, Allied artillery pounded German lines for a week before the attack, firing 1.6 million shells. British commanders were so confident they ordered their troops to walk slowly towards the German lines. Once they had been seized, cavalry units would pour through to pursue the fleeing Germans.

    However, unconcealed preparations for the assault and the week-long bombardment gave the Germans clear warning. Happy to remain on French soil, German trenches were heavily fortified and, furthermore, many of the British shells failed to explode. When the bombardment began, the Germans simply moved underground and waited. Around 7.30am on 1 July, whistles blew to signal the start of the attack. With the shelling over, the Germans left their bunkers and set up their positions.

    As the 11 British divisions walked towards the German lines, the machine guns started and the slaughter began. Although a few units managed to reach German trenches, they could not exploit their gains and were driven back. By the end of the day, the British had suffered 60,000 casualties, of whom 20,000 were dead: their largest single loss. Sixty per cent of all officers involved on the first day were killed.

    It was a baptism of fire for Britain's new volunteer armies. Many 'Pals' Battalions, comprising men from the same town, had enlisted together to serve together. They suffered catastrophic losses: whole units died together and for weeks after the initial assault, local newspapers would be filled with lists of dead, wounded and missing.

    The French advance was considerably more successful. They had more guns and faced weaker defences, yet were unable to exploit their gains without British backup and had to fall back to earlier positions.

    With the 'decisive breakthrough' now a decisive failure, Haig accepted that advances would be more limited and concentrated on the southern sector. The British took the German positions there on 14 July, but once more could not follow through. The next two months saw bloody stalemate, with the Allies gaining little ground. On 15 September Haig renewed the offensive, using tanks for the first time. However, lightly armed, small in number and often subject to mechanical failure, they made little impact.

    Torrential rains in October turned the battlegrounds into a muddy quagmire and in mid-November the battle ended, with the Allies having advanced only 8km (five miles). The British suffered around 420,000 casualties, the French 195,000 and the Germans around 650,000. Only in the sense of relieving the French at Verdun can the British have claimed any measure of success."
     
  2. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    The Royal Newfoundland Regiment sent 790 over the top and 68 answered roll call the next day so in Newfoundland it is Canada Day as well as Rememberance Day quite a loss for place with a population of 200000
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Werent the small villages and towns west of Toronto and near the US border also hammered hard? I seem to remember a bunch of monuments near the Allan Park and Hannover area in Ontario.
     
  4. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    I don't think the Canadians were involved on the 1st day and Newfoundland at the time was not a part of Canada and the destruction of the Newfoundland Regiment hit almost every family Newfoundland
     
  5. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Yep, almost 90% casualties were sustained in the assualting divisions. The 1st of July 1916 was the bloodiest day in the British Armies History with 57000 killed or wounded (out of 60000 set over the top).

    :salute:
     
  6. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    Horrible.

    Gettysburg on a larger scale.
     
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