The German defenses would stand no chance.They would be totally smashed to pieces.
Once the artillery had done their worst, the infantry(750,000 men, many from Kitchener’s Armies)would advance and consolidate.
The British guns smashed the German lines for 8 daysprior to the infantry advance.
However, due to a mixture of poor quality ammunition and worldclass German defenses the bombardment failed.
German wire was not destroyed, their defences were still intactand morale was not broken.
2 minutes before ‘Zero’ several huge mines were detonatedunderneath the German lines.
However, when the British infantry advanced the Germanmachine gunners were ready and waiting.
The advancing infantry were either cut down in No Man’s Landor forced back to their own lines.Any success was isolated and temporary.
The result was carnage.The British Army suffered 57,470 casualties that day.A third of that number were killed.
It still stands as the blackest day in the history of the British Army.
Despite this, Haig continued to press the offensive over thefollowing days and weeks.
On 11th July the first line of the German defense system wassecured.Soldiers of 11th Btn. Cheshire Regiment occupy a captured German trench. July 1916 (IWM Q3990)
That same day Germany moved significant men from Verdun tothe Somme area, doubling the amount of men available.
The fighting continued throughout the summer, each side trying tosmash the other into submission, but to no avail.
On 15th September 1916 the British attacked again in the Battle ofFlers-Courcellete. It was here that the tank made its operationaldebut.
Although the tanks scared the hell out of the Germans,poor reliability and tactics meant these ‘land ships’failed to make a real impact in the fighting.
The fighting continued until the snow of November forced thesuspension of operation. The Allies had gained a slither oftortured land 8 miles across at its deepest point.
Britain and her Empire lost 419,654 men (wounded and killed)during the Battle of the Somme.
Germany took a beating too, with casualties of around 500,000.Fricourt German Cemetery. Photo from www.ww1battlefields.co.uk
Germany was also forced to stop attacking Verdun,allowing the French to rest and regroup.
So, even though the tactics of the battle remain controversial,Haig could be forgiven for saying ‘job done’.
This slideshare was inspired by the e-bookWorld War One: A Layman’s GuideAvailable on Kindle for less than the price of acup of coffee.Amazon.co.ukhttp://tinyurl.com/mksc329Amazon.comhttp://tinyurl.com/lvbe4d2