"Dan-Joe & Malcolm (WW1)" -- TOC
Ch. 11 - Criticisms of The Battle of The Somme
"The Somme was one of the war's longest attritional campaigns, and remains a source of great historical controversy. Critics suggest that ineffective and callous British generals ordered their soldiers forward in fruitless and costly attacks, giving them neither proper weapons nor effective tactics to break through the enemy trenches. Other historians further suggest that little more could have been done at this stage in the war to achieve victory, and that the attrition of German troops along the Somme eased enough pressure from the French at Verdun to ensure the Allied front did not collapse in 1916. French demands for help, they argue, forced the British to attack before they were ready. Without enough heavy artillery or shells to suppress enemy fire, the British suffered staggering casualties.
The above quote from the www.warmuseum.ca is as fine an analysis of the Battle of the Somme as one will likely find. The criticism is echoed in most all of the accounts of this battle. The distinguished historian, Llewellyn Woodward (1890-1971) to whom we refereed earlier in this work, in referring to Haig's method of winning was "clumsy, tragically expensive of life, and based for too long on a misreading of the facts." Woodward has also questioned the morality of the policy of attrition. He described it as the "killing Germans until the German army was worn down and exhausted". He further argued that it "was not only wasteful and, intellectually, a confession of impotence; it was also extremely dangerous. The Germans might counter Haig's plan by allowing him to wear down his own army in a series of unsuccessful attacks against a skillful defence."57
The Somme was a costly stalemate that led to harsh criticism of Allied commanders, especially Haig55, and German determination to avoid similar casualties by altering their defensive systems. In the fighting of 1917, improved Allied assault tactics would face deeper, more sophisticated German defences."56
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