Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 10 years ago

Was the battle of the Somme a failure because of the bad planning of the British?

what are some other factors and in what way did the British plan badly?

7 Answers

  • joe t
    Lv 5
    10 years ago
    Favourite answer

    The simple fact is it wasn't a bad plan as it was obsolete tactics and technology. Further to this the British, Commonwealth and French did gain ground in the offensive and pushed the Germans back 7 miles. Which by 1916 standards was quite the distance.

    Remember this is 1916, the war had only started a year and a half before and all sides were learning to cope with this new type of trench warfare. The British and Commonwealth forces were only using tactics that they had always used. The slow advance across no man's land and seize the enemy trenches after a preliminary bombardment was normal for the time and was part of the training and discipline. The artillery shells, tactics and technology was not advanced enough to do any major damage to the German defenses. It is important to note that these "failures" led to better tactics and technology. The creeping barrage, trench raids, and tanks.

    It is difficult to declare the Battle of the Somme a victory for either side. The Commonwealth and French captured little more than 7-mile (11 km) at the deepest point of penetration well short of their original objectives. The British and Commonwealth forces themselves had gained approximately only two miles and lost about 420,000 soldiers in the process, meaning that a centimetre cost about two men. A group of British and Commonwealth historians have since the 1960 argued against the long-held consensus that the battle was a disaster; arguing that the Battle of the Somme delivered more benefits for the British than it did for the Germans.

    As British historian Gary Sheffield said, "The battle of the Somme was not a victory in itself, but without it the Entente would not have emerged victorious in 1918.

  • the c
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    In hind sight mistakes were made in the planning. But at this stage of the war the Somme offensive was never going to achieve the ambitious objectives some set for it. If the objective was the attrition of German manpower (the allies had far greater resources in this area) it achieved it. It all depends on what you consider the objectives to have been.

    The mistakes in planning not things that could have been reasonably foreseen. From the experiences of 1915 the command knew that it was necessary to ensure that the German barbed wire was cut and the German defenders nutralised. Early experiences had taught them that to achieve this a heavy bombardment was necessay. However this was not going to work on the Somme (due to the nature of the chalk land very deep dugouts could be quickly constructed). It was also a red hearing as the key to victory was supressive artillery fire and good counter battery work but that is a different story and key to later British success.

    The main fault in the planning was down to the simple fact that is was obvious where the attack was coming. All of the most successful offensives in the war achieved an element of strategic suprise, meaning that the enemy didn't know where the attack was coming and didn't have divisions in reserve just behind the lines to counter attack. Preperations like building roads, railways and preparing artillery allowed the Germans time to prepare themselves for the attack. Making any attack destined to fail. This was a lesson the British did learn and latter attacks were much more spontaneous. Another lesson that was learnt on the Somme was the increasingly sophisticated uses of artillery. While a lesson that was not learnt was that attacks suffered from a law of diminishing returns. So an attack on one point must cease after a few days and a thrust moved to elsewhere, though in part this was due to the logistic restrictions of moving all the required forces, this was something that required more planning and staff work and was beyond the skills of those involved in 1916 in the General Staff, though by 1918 many of the same people had learned how to do this.

  • 10 years ago

    The Battle of the Somme was a huge learning curve for the British high command. They had formulated a plan which was to all intents and purposes very well thought-out and had every reason to succeed. The plan was to annihilate the entrenched German soldiers facing them and contrary to the perceived wisdom that the British officers used men as cannon-fodder, the first part of the plan was to destroy the German trenches in the greatest bombardment the world had ever seen -- so that taking the tranches would be literally a "walkover". It should be remembered that at that time reconnaissance was in its infancy and what the British imagined to be shallow trenches turned out to be up to 40 feet deep in places. The Germans retreated into the depths of their trench system and when the bombardment was over very few had been killed, causing the British to walk into a hail of fire. There was nothing wrong with the planning but it was based upon a German trench system which was far more more sophisticated than they ever imagined.

    Source(s): I have seen the 40 feet deep trenches -- they are virtually invulnerable,
  • ?
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    Alesha has summed it up. At that time we were still using previously successful tactics that were completely destroyed by the use of modern weapons.

    We adapted... eventually, but the battle of the Somme was a disaster that could have been avoided if the people in charge had listened to officers who understood modern warfare, rather than the old guard.

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  • Jim L
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    You can't say it was a complete failure, as one of the aims was to draw off pressure on the French at Verdun - which it did.

    Also, before then the Germans lauged at the volunteer armies. The courage and dedication they showed wiped the grins off the Germans' faces.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    All the planning in the world wouldn't have gotten by the German 7.6 MM Spandau Machine Gun and the Krupp 15 CM Howitzer. The basic problem was that weaponry had made any kind of offense based on mass and numbers obsolete.

  • ?
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    The main problem was that the Tank wasn't in full use and the Generals felt they needed to press forward.

    The more I study and hear about WW1 the more I see that really short of shooting all the Generals (on both sides) it was stalemate.

    Alesha has summed it up and should get the 10 points, but the Generals were stuck in their ways, Colonel Blimps the lot of them.

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