THE GALLERY SOLACE - The Pierre Solace Gallery
THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME
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BATTLES AND ACTIONS
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THE SOMME OFFENSIVE:
Battle of the Somme
Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme or the Somme Offensive, took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 in the Somme department of France, on both banks of the river of the same name . The battle consisted of an offensive by the British and French armies against the German Army. One of the largest battles of the Great War, by the time fighting had petered out in late autumn 1916 more than 1.5 million casualties had been suffered by the forces involved. It is understood to have been one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded.
First Day on the Somme
First Day on the Somme
1 July 1916, was the opening day of the Battle of Albert, which was the first phase of the British and French offensive that became known as the Battle of the Somme. It is remembered as the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army when 57,470 men became casualties, of whom 19,240 were killed or died of wounds. For Newfoundlanders, it was also a very traumatic day, as the 1st Newfoundland Regiment suffered death totals of over 500 out of 801 men, with just 68 surviving unscathed. For many people, the first day has come to represent the futility and sacrifice of the war, with lines of infantry being mowed down by German machine guns. While the first day marked the beginning of four and a half months of attrition, it has always overshadowed the days that followed. The Battle of Albert continued until 13 July, the eve of the next major attack, the Battle of Bazentin Ridge.
 
 
 
  
 
   The following designs depict the twelve phases between 1st  July and 18th  November 1916 that made up the Somme offensive. It is difficult to declare the Battle of the Somme a victory for either side. The British and French captured little more than 7-mile (11 km) at the deepest point of penetration—well short of their original objectives. Attitudes however  are now changing and challenging  the long-held consensus that the battle was a disaster; arguing that the Battle of the Somme delivered more benefits to the British than it did for the Germans, the Somme was not a victory in itself, but without it the Entente would not, it has been argued, have emerged victorious in 1918.
 
  On 24 February 1917, the German army made a strategic scorched earth withdrawal from the Somme battlefield to the prepared fortifications of the Hindenburg Line.The strategic effects of the Battle of the Somme cannot obscure the fact it was one of the costliest battles of the First World War. A German officer, Friedrich Steinbrecher, wrote: “Somme. The whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word” Another, Captain von Hentig, described the Battle of the Somme as "the muddy grave of the German Field Army"
 
Total British Empire Casualties:   95,675 Killed: 419,654 Wounded.
Total French           Casualties:   50,756 Killed: 204,253 Wounded.
Total Germany       Casualties: 164,055 Killed: 465,000  Wounded.
TOTALS OVERALL    Casualties: 310,386 Killed:1088,907 Wounded.
 
 
 
 
Battle of Albert
Battle of Albert
The Battle of Albert, 1 - 13 July 1916, was the opening phase of the British and French offensive that became the Battle of the Somme The British concentrated and deployed artillery on a scale unprecedented up until then.As a result of faulty British planning and tactics the British army suffered its highest-ever casualty rate in a single day. In stark contrast, the French attack was successful and incurred relatively few casualties. For these reasons the events of the "First Day on the Somme" as they affected the British tend to obscure the overall picture of what was a joint British-French offensive.
Battle of Bazentin Ridge
Battle of Bazentin Ridge
The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, launched by the British Fourth Army at dawn on 14 July 1916, marked the start of the second phase of the Battle of the Somme. Dismissed beforehand by one French commander as "an attack organized for amateurs by amateurs", it turned out to be "hugely successful" for the British, in complete contrast to the disaster of the first day on the Somme. However, like the first day, the British failed to exploit their advantage in the wake of the victory and as German resistance stiffened, a period of bloody attrition commenced.
Battle of Delville Wood
Battle of Delville Wood
Delville Wood was a critical objective to both German and Allied forces. As part of a large offensive starting on 14 July. The battle achieved its objective to secure the right flank and is considered a tactical Allied victory. However, it was one of the bloodiest confrontations of the Somme, with both sides incurring large casualties. This tactical victory needs to be measured against the losses sustained as well as the fact that the British advance to the north had made only marginal gains by the end of the battle.
Battle of Pozières
Battle of Pozières
The Battle of Pozières was a two week struggle for the French village of Pozières and the ridge on which it stands, during the middle stages of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Though British divisions were involved in most phases of the fighting, Pozières is primarily remembered as an Australian battle. The fighting ended with the Allied forces in possession of the plateau north and east of the village, and in a position to menace the German bastion of Thiepval from the rear. However, the cost had been enormous, and in the words of Australian official historian Charles Bean, the Pozières ridge "is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth."
Battle of Guillemont
Battle of Guillemont
The Battle of Guillemont was a British assault on the German-held village of Guillemont which lay on the right flank of the British sector where it linked with French forces and by holding it, the Germans prevented the Allied armies from operating in unison. On 3 September with the British 20th (Light) Division and 47 Brigade of the 16th (Irish) Division capturing Guillemont while the British 5th Division advanced on the right, eventually taking Falfemont Farm on 5 September. German units fought to the death in the frontline trenches until overwhelmed. Lieutenant Ernst Jünger described the dreadful conditions the Germans had to endure. Regiment 73's history states : "Nobody from 3rd Company can provide a report - all the men were killed, as was every officer". There were 5 survivors of 5th Company Infantry Regiment 76.
Battle of Ginchy
Battle of Ginchy
The Battle of Ginchy took place on 9 September 1916 when 16th (Irish) Division captured the German-held village of Ginchy. However the Irish Royal Munster Fusiliers suffered heavy casualties' In terms of the Somme fighting, the attack was highly successful with the village being taken on the first attempt. The Irish took the well fortified village in an hour. A London newspaper headlined How the Irish took Ginchy - Splendid daring of the Irish troops For the Germans the loss of Ginchy deprived them of their strategic observation posts overlooking the entire battlefield.
Battle of Flers-Courcelette
Battle of Flers-Courcelette
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, began on 15 September 1916 and lasted for one week, it was the third and last of the large-scale offensives mounted by the British Army during the Battle of the Somme.The battle is significant for the first use of the tank in warfare and expectations were high that it would prove a decisive weapon. However, the Mark I tank's performance was patchy at best. After having struggled for the preceding two months to take control of it the British succeeded in clearing High Wood, sustaining heavy losses in the process. The Canadian Corps made their debut on the Somme capturing their assigned objective of Courcelette and the area surrounding the village. The New Zealand Division fought for and captured a position known as the Switch Line in thirty minutes.
Battle of Morval
Battle of Morval
The Battle of Morval, began on 25 September 1916, with an attack by the British Fourth Army on the German-held villages of Morval, Gueudecourt and Lesboeufs. These villages were originally objectives of the major British offensive of 15 September, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. The French Sixth Army, which had not been keeping pace with British progress in September, also attacked to try and bring the two armies into line. While the village of Combles was finally taken, the French were unable to match the British advance and so the problem of a German salient at the boundary of the Allied armies remained.
Battle of Thiepval Ridge
Battle of Thiepval Ridge
The Battle of Thiepval Ridge was the first large offensive mounted by the British Reserve Army of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough. Beginning at 12.35pm on 26 September 1916 and after three days of intense bombardment, the Canadian 2nd and 1st Divisions, shielded by a creeping barrage, made their first objectives north of Courcelette. The adjoining 11th (Northern) Division, attacking northwards, quickly overran the unrecognisable rubble that was Mouquet Farm, but experienced the utmost difficulty subduing its surviving defenders. 18th Division’s systematic uphill advance on Thiepval met with early success, but enemy resistance stiffened and the push through to the village was halted by machine-gun fire near the ruined chateau. A tank crucially intervened and by 2.30pm, after much hard close-quarter fighting, the greater part of Thiepval was secured. Day two of the battle saw the capture of the German fortress of Thiepval. Successful British operations concluded on 28 September with the capture of the Schwaben Redoubt, north of Thiepval
Battle of Le Transloy
Battle of Le Transloy
The battle, which opened on 1 October, began well with the capture of Eaucourt L'Abbaye as well as an advance along the Albert-Bapaume road towards Le Sars. The advance was resumed on 7 October and Le Sars was taken but progress along the Canadian lines was stalled. The weather was rapidly deteriorating and the battlefield, which had been pummelled to dust by relentless artillery bombardment over the preceding three months, turned to a quagmire. Rawlinson mounted further attacks on 12 October including the Newfoundlanders at Gueudecourt, 18 October and 23 October but there was little chance of a significant gain. The last throe (which by now included the Australian forces of the I Anzac Corps) came on 5 November despite protests from some corps commanders who believed continued attacks to be futile.
Battle of the Ancre Heights
Battle of the Ancre Heights
The Battle of the Ancre Heights was a prolonged battle of attrition in October 1916. Lieutenant General Hubert Gough's Reserve Army had finally managed to break out of the positions it had occupied since the start of the Somme fighting (1 July) and Gough intended to maintain the pressure on the German forces on the high ground above the River Ancre. However, in three weeks of fighting the greatest advance achieved was little over 1,000 yards (910 m). In one of the war's most poignant episodes, twenty-year-old James Richardson of the 16th Battalion won Victoria Cross, standing up in the line of fire and playing his bagpipes when his battalion's attack had stalled and the men had taken cover. His playing inspired the men to press the attack forward. Richardson survived the piping, but his VC was awarded posthumously as he was killed later in the day.
Battle of the Ancre
Battle of the Ancre
The Battle of the Ancre was the final act of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Launched on 13 November 1916 by the British Fifth Army of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, the objective of the battle was as much political as military.By November the British had learned many lessons about planning, preparing and executing an attack in trench warfare. Supported by artillery, a machine gun barrage and by tanks After five days of fighting the Battle of the Ancre could be considered a success for the British, and C-in-C Haig was satisfied with the results. However, V Army commander Gough was - as ever - keen to continue further, a characteristic of his command that was loathed by the men who had to serve under him. On 18 November, II Corps was ordered to drive north towards the village of Grandcourt and the river. North of the river, V Corps was meant to secure the remainder of Redan Ridge. Neither attack was successful. When Gough called off the Battle of the Ancre, the Battle of the Somme had effectively ceased.