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De Somme, 1 Juli 1916.

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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2005 11:25    Onderwerp: De Somme, 1 Juli 1916. Reageer met quote

"The Pals battalions, Kitchener's army, fought its first really major battle on the Somme.

"There is in Britain, to this day, a kind of particular link with the first of July 1916, because so many communities saw their young men cut down in this first huge, mass battle for the British on the Somme. The local newspapers in the following weeks were full of pages of pictures of local lads who laid down their lives on the Somme. I think the impact of these losses on particular communities has passed into the British collective folk memory. So the character of the British Army as a highly localized, distinct army of 1916, disappears with the Battle of the Somme.

"Haig's thoughts on the battle are still a subject of hot debate in Britain and in the rest of the historical world. The thing to remember is that it was a joint Anglo-French battle, and that the British took the bigger part in the battle. I think mainly because of the French involvement in Verdun.

"Originally, the whole object of attacking on the Somme is because this is where the French and British armies actually joined.

"Therefore, it's not Haig's choice of battlefield. Haig always preferred Flanders as his choice of battlefield in that sense.

"They used an early form of something called creeping barrage, which means you actually move your artillery fire in front of the troops so as to provide a curtain behind which the army will advance. They get the men into no-man's-land before zero hour, they're ahead of the game, and they win the race to the parapet.

"They've got the French artillery alongside them because this is where the army is actually joined. So they've got more firepower. And this combination of circumstances on the first day of the Somme means that on the right flank of the British line, things are done better, things are done properly.

"The first day of the Somme is remembered so much because it's the bloodiest day ever in British military history.

"Nearly 60,000 casualties, including nearly 20,000 dead. There was never an experience like this in the whole British military history, indeed British history. The Germans also lose heavily on the Somme, and the learning curve of the British Expeditionary Force and the Dominion Forces in the First World War, I think, really begins at this point.

"The ingredients are in place, nearly, by the middle of the Battle of the Somme. The problem is that the weapon system has a sort of unit that isn't yet properly balanced, in my view. There is not yet enough heavy artillery. The gunners do not yet know quite how to apply all their techniques to maximum benefit.

"The machine gun corps, which is being created, has not yet worked out its tactics properly. This is the first appearance of tanks during the Battle of the Somme – that needs to be shaken down, if you like, into a working tactical system. Cooperation with aircraft is not yet fully developed; and even the poor bloody infantry on the ground – the balance of their weapons isn't yet right.

"One of the things during the Battle of the Somme, is that you can get brave men to advance at any time.

"But it's sustaining the impetus of the advance once they've gone over the top that's important. If they've got the wrong weapons with which to fight, if they're carrying rifles and bayonets and they're up against machine guns, the formula is wrong.

"If, as is happening by the end of the Battle of Somme, and in 1917, you give them more light machine guns to carry into battle, and you give them more grenades, if you take more trench mortars forward with you – you give them more firepower. They're able to stick out there longer and sustain their own moment of advance. That's what I mean by balance of forces. Once you've got formula right, you can begin to work the tactics properly."
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2005 11:34    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Sheffield Memorial Park

The Accrington Pals Memorial

The Chorley Pals Memorial
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2005 16:05    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Op onderstaande link staat de kaart ook maar kun je doorklikken naar specifiekere stukken.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jul 2012 11:40    Onderwerp: The bloody first day - Peter Simkins Reageer met quote

At 7.30 am on 1 July 1916 the British barrage lifted from the enemy front trenches. Along a 14-mile stretch, Rawlinson's infantry moved forward - many in long lines. In most places on that hot morning the attackers lost the 'race to the parapet', failing to get through the enemy's wire and into the front trenches before the Germans came up from their deep dug-outs to man their machine guns. This time Rawlinson had misjudged the difficulties in seizing the German front line in a set-piece assault. Thanks to their dug-outs and the British artillery's inability to destroy the wire, many Germans survived the bombardment to mow down the attackers in rows as the latter tried to cross No Man's Land at a steady pace. To add to the Fourth Army's problems, British counter-battery work was largely ineffective and hitherto unlocated German guns now opened fire, increasing the scale of slaughter.
The explosion of huge mines under the German trenches at La Boisselle, in the British 34th Division's area, and at Hawthorn Redoubt, on the front of VIII Corps, did not materially assist the attack. In fact, the ill-conceived decision by VIII Corps to lift its barrage when the Hawthorn Redoubt mine was detonated at 7.20 am merely gave the defenders an additional ten minutes to line their parapets and contribute to the British disaster between Serre and Beaumont Hamel. Elsewhere along the British front, over-optimistic and rigid fire plans - with the artillery lifting from one objective to another in accordance with an inflexible timetable - not only carried the barrage too far ahead of the infantry but also meant that it was well-nigh impossible to bring it back.
Even on that bloody morning the story was not one of unrelieved misery. On the southern flank of Fourth Army, where the attackers were much helped by the presence of French heavy guns on their right, the 30th and 18th Divisions, using more imaginative tactics, captured all their objectives in the Carnoy-Montauban sector. Next to them, the 7th Division took Mametz. The percipient Major-General Ivor Maxse, commanding the 18th (Eastern) Division, moved his assaulting infantry into No Man's Land before zero hour, giving them a head start in the 'race to the parapet'. He also employed an early form of creeping barrage, as did the 7th Division at Mametz. These limited British successes on 1 July were overshadowed by the progress of Fayolle's French Sixth Army on the right. As well as possessing a preponderance of heavy guns, the French demonstrated that they were digesting the lessons of Verdun, sending their infantry forward in small groups rather than long lines and making better use of available cover.
At other isolated spots on the British front there were tantalising early gains. The battalions of the 36th ( Ulster ) Division, some of which were also deployed in No Man's Land before the assault, attacked the fearsome defences at Thiepval and, displaying splendid zest and courage, took the Schwaben Redoubt. The comparative lack of movement by neighbouring divisions, however, compelled the Ulstermen to pull back by nightfall. In the north, at Gommecourt, Territorial troops of the 56th ( London ) Division also captured their objectives but they too were forced to withdraw when the 46th Division was repulsed.
For a shallow penetration - just a mile - on a length of front less than four miles wide the BEF lost 19,240 officers and men killed and 35,493 wounded. The frightful total of 57,470 casualties made 1 July 1916 the bloodiest day ever in British military history. The 34th Division alone - containing four Tyneside Scottish and four Tyneside Irish battalions - incurred 6,380 casualties, and 32 battalions suffered losses of more than 500, or over half their battle strength.
The death or maiming of such a large number of Britain's citizen-soldiers in a single day had a massive effect on the national psyche. Moreover, after the first day of the Somme offensive, the dilution of the highly localised BEF of mid-1916 was inevitable. Partly to lessen the concentrated and dramatic impact of battle losses on particular communities, it became deliberate policy - under a reorganised reserve and drafting system from the summer of 1916 onwards - to draw casualty replacements from a common pool rather than from their parent regiments. In any case, within a few months, conscripts were entering the ranks of the BEF.
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