July 1, 1916; The Bloodiest in British History

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Crabtownboy, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    The Allies bombarded German trenches for seven days and then sent 100,000 men over the top to attack the German lines.

    The day was a disaster for the British. The Germans weathered the artillery fire in deep trenches and came up fighting. As the British soldiers advanced, they were mown down by machine gun and rifle fire. In total, 19,240 British soldiers lost their lives. It was the bloodiest day in the history of the British army. However, the French had more success and inflicted big losses on German troops. In spite of heavy British losses, Douglas Haig, the British general, agreed to continue the attack.
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    Arrgh, the days before tactical radios. Weapons tech was a generation or more ahead of radio tech.
     
  3. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    Yes, that is correct. And with a general like Haig, who argued that the machine gun was over rated, especially against a man on a horse, resulted in terrible losses. My personal feeling is he was the worst general in WW I.

    From: http://www.historynet.com/field-marshal-sir-douglas-haig-world-war-is-worst-general.htm

    Haig envisioned a vital role for the horse in his masterpiece, the Somme offensive. That battle is generally, and incorrectly, remembered as one decided through attrition. (It failed even on that score, since the Allies lost more men than the Germans.) Haig, popular thinking goes, attacked and kept on attacking—even when the ground his men gained, yard by bloody yard, was useless by any military measure—in order to wear down the Germans. Attrition is never an inspired strategy and is usually the refuge of a commander who cannot come up with anything better. And Haig was, if anything, unimaginative. As Paul Fussell writes in his indispensable volume The Great War and Modern Memory, “In a situation demanding the military equivalent of wit and invention…Haig had none.”

    Haig had learned nothing and this led to the horrible disaster at Ypres and later to John McCrae's sad poem, "In Fanders Fields". Ironically McCrae died of pneumonia in France near the end of the war.

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.
     
    #3 Crabtownboy, Jul 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016

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