On today in 1916, British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig calls a halt to his army’s offensive near to the Somme River in northwestern France, ending the epic Battle of the Somme following a lot more than 4 months of bloody conflict.
With the French under heavy siege at Verdun considering that February, the Somme offensive was Haig’s extended-planned make an effort to make an Allied breakthrough on the Western Front. After a complete week of artillery bombardment, the offensive were only available in earnest on the morning of July 1, 1916, when soldiers from 11 British divisions emerged from their trenches close to the Somme River in northwestern France and sophisticated toward the German front lines.
The initial advance was a tragedy, because the six German divisions facing the advancing British mowed them down making use of their machine guns, killing or wounding some 60,000 males on the 1st day alone: the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history compared to that point. The failure of the advance was credited variously to the entire insufficient surprise in the timing of the attack, incompetence on the component of Haig and the British command-namely, their failure to conceive that the Germans could create their trenches deep adequate to guard their heavy weapons or bring them up so swiftly when the artillery barrage had ended-and the inferior preparation of the British artillery, that the infantry paid much cost.
Over the span of another 4-and-a-half months no less than 90 attacks, the Allies could actually advance a complete of only six miles in the Somme area, at the trouble of 146,000 soldiers killed and much more than 200,000 a lot more injured. On November 18, 1916, Haig lastly referred to as off the offensive, insisting in his official dispatch from leading that December that the Somme operation had accomplished its objectives. “Verdun had been relieved; the main German forces had been held on the Western front; and the enemy’s strength had been very considerably worn down. Any one of these three results is in itself sufficient to justify the Somme battle.”
Despite its commander’s positive assessment, the Battle of the Somme would stay an individual of the very most controversial operations of World War I. In the war’s aftermath, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, a nemesis of Haig’s, roundly condemned Haig’s offensive: “Over 400,000 of our men fell in this bullheaded fight and the slaughter amongst our young officers was appalling…Had it not been for the inexplicable stupidity of the Germans in provoking a quarrel with America and bringing that mighty people into the war against them just as they had succeeded in eliminating another powerful foe—Russia–the Somme would not have saved us from the inextricable stalemate.”