Somme, battle of the

views updated Jun 08 2018

Somme, battle of the, 1916. When he became commander-in-chief, Haig wanted to advance from Ypres to liberate the Belgian coast. However, the allies had already concerted their operations for 1916, so he agreed to take part in an Anglo-French offensive further south, astride the river Somme, where the British and French armies met. This was part of a plan by which each of the allied armies would attack simultaneously and compel the Germans to sue for peace by Christmas 1916. Haig hoped that he would break through the German defences in a single day. But despite a lengthy bombardment, when his infantry advanced on 1 July, they suffered nearly 60,000 casualties and only dented the German line. The battle continued until mid-November, by which time the British had suffered approximately 400,000 casualties and advanced a maximum of only 8 miles.

David French

Somme, Battle of the

views updated May 14 2018

Somme, Battle of the Major World War I engagement along the River Somme, n France. It was launched by the British Commander Douglas Haig on July 1, 1916. On the first day, the British suffered more than 60,000 casualties in a futile attempt to break through the German lines. A desperate trench war of attrition continued until the offensive was abandoned on November 19, 1916. Total casualties were more than one million, and the British advanced a mere 16km (10mi). A second battle around St Quentin (March–April 1918) is sometimes referred to as the Second Battle of the Somme. A German offensive, designed to secure a victory before the arrival of US troops, was halted by Anglo-French forces.

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Battle of the Somme

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