There appeared to be real danger that the roads through Ypres behind the British and French troops east of the town would be cut. Foch at once promised reinforcements for the Hollebeke front. The French 32nd Division went to the help of the British cavalry at Oosttaverne, and five French battalions came up to support the right of the British 7th Division at Klein Zillebeke and St.
One immediate crisis was staved off by these reinforcements, but another was developing on the Menin road, east of Ypres. On October 31 the German XV Corps and 54th Reserve Division, attacking on either side of the road, had captured Gheluvelt Geluveld and broken the line between the 1st and 7th Divisions. For a time it appeared that retreat was inevitable, but a brilliantly executed counterattack organized by Brig.
Charles FitzClarence and delivered by the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment against Gheluvelt from the north drove the Germans out of the village. Later in the day this success was confirmed by another counterattack on a larger scale organized and directed by Maj. Edward Bulfin.
To What Extent Was the Battle of the Somme a Disaster.
On this portion of the battle front, the Allied line was established east of the village of Kemmel and on the important high ground at Mount Kemmel Kemmelberg. Another lull ensued, and it appeared that the First Battle of Ypres had come to an end. Of the approximately 12, British infantry who had landed at Zeebrugge a month before, only some 4, remained in fighting condition. These changes of disposition were made without further interference from the enemy other than constant shelling, but the Germans had yet another great effort in preparation. Six more divisions, including a division of the Prussian Guard, were collected for a final effort to break through into Ypres.
In preparation for this attack, Duke Albrecht was directed to keep up the utmost pressure. This manifested in a series of local attacks chiefly against the French. One of these attacks, on November 10, drove the French defenders of Dixmude Diksmuide from the ruins of that town.
On the next day the German attack was made after an intense bombardment on the front from the Messines Ridge to the north of the Menin road. The Prussian Guard attacked astride the Menin road, gaining the only real success achieved by the Germans during the November 11 offensive. The Guard broke through the left of the British 1st Division and penetrated into the Nonne Bosschen, but again the situation was restored by a pair of counterattacks.
The first was delivered by the Royal Scots Fusiliers near the Menin road. In preparing the latter attack, FitzClarence was killed in a burst of German rifle fire. This small rise remained a bone of contention until December , but elsewhere the attack made no significant progress.
The Battle of Verdun - History Learning Site
The failure of this last attack by the Germans to break through practically closed the battle, though on November 17 Duke Albrecht made an attack on the Herentage Wood, which met with no success. Thereafter the Germans adopted a defensive attitude in the West and sent all available troops to the Russian front. The Germans had little reserves in the area, and it seemed that the Somme was the perfect location. The Anglo-French attack was to break the German lines and achieve a breakthrough that would allow the allies to drive a wedge between the Germans armies in France.
The British after a five-day bombardment was to launch a massive infantry assault; once the Germans had fled from their trenches, the British cavalry would push forward and seize key objectives such as railroads and bridges in the Somme. They had added a third line of defense, had established a telephone system and had dug even more trenches. The German defenses did have some deficiencies, but they proved to be formidable. The British underestimated the German defenses, and this was to prove costly during the coming battles.
The British committed hundreds of thousands of men to the fighting. Many of their reserves were transferred to the area. They stationed thousands of artillery pieces in the region.
These were expected to play a crucial role in the coming offensive. The British leadership believed that a concentrated artillery barrage could either force the German defenders to flee or destroy their defenses. Crucially, the British had not mastered the tactic of the creeping barrage. This tactic would have allowed the infantry to advance under cover of shelling. The British failure to do so meant that when the artillery barrage ended that the Germans who survived the artillery onslaught could mow down the advancing soldiers with machine guns.
Why did the Battle of the Somme largely fail to achieve its objectives?
New military technologies were also employed at the battle of the Somme. The British intended using airplanes and tanks in a major battle for the first time. They gave the British more capabilities. The tanks could be sued to punch through the German lines, and the airplanes could gather intelligence on the movements of German troops. However, the British High Command was to fail to use these new weapons effectively.
The planners at the Somme also expected the infantry to make spectacular gains. The British High Command was simply expecting too much of their soldiers, especially given the heavy and sophisticated German defenses.
The inability of the British to properly employ and coordinate their forces and their unrealistic expectations was to cost many soldiers their lives and to limit the advances made during the offensive. The first day of the Somme offensive started after the five-day barrage had ended. For five days the British had blasted the German lines.
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Hundreds of thousands of shells landed on the German trenches. The British believed that they had obliterated the German defenses. The British were ordered to advance at a walking pace.
However, some officers on the ground ordered their men to rush across no man's land. The Germans, once the barrage ended, were able to man the front line. Critically they were able to use the machine gun nests and order up their artillery to fire on no-mans-land. The British failed to take many German trenches and instead suffered catastrophic casualties. The order to advance at a walking pace over no man's land probably cost many brave men their lives. The first day on the Somme was also the worst day in the history of the British army, it suffered almost 60, casualties, mainly on the frontline between the Albert—Bapaume road and Gommecourt.
The French did achieve some significant results, and they ejected large elements of the German 2nd Army from their positions south of the Somme.
The British in total only made minimal gains at a considerable cost. It was clear after the first day that the British had not achieved tactical surprise and that the German defenses were stronger than expected. However, the British and the French High Command continued with the offensive. The Somme offensive was to become a series of set pitched battles mainly between the British and the French. Historians had identified some thirteen significant battles between the Anglo-French armies and the Germans during the Somme offensive.
The British were on the attack all through the summer and the early autumn. During World War 1, on the Western Front, many Battles such as the Battle of the Somme, the living conditions sustained by soldiers, heroes who would risk their lives and sometimes loose them for their country, and the leaders that devised the plans to destroy the triple alliance drove the entente forces to victory in the western front.
The Battle lasted for more than five months. The aim of the attack was to break through the German lines and force the German army to surrender. General Haig used artillery which would destroy the German barbed wire, trenches, machine guns and soldiers. Heavy casualties were not expected during this allied attack.
The Germans were secured by concrete bunkers, ten metres underground. The Germans realised that when the British would stop the Bombardment They would move up and charge to their position. The Battle of Somme was won by a victory of either side. The British and French army gained about 11km.
By the end of 1st July , 20, British soldiers were killed the other 40, soldiers were wounded or captured as prisoners. The fighting soldiers saw muddy, dirty and filthy trenches littered with the waste of the war. Inside the trenches there were cart wheels, barbed wires, bodies of the dead soldiers, and human parts scattered everywhere.
There were a great number of rats everywhere. Some soldiers reported that there were rats as big as cats. Rats became fat from feeding on the flesh of the decomposed bodies of the dead soldiers.