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A history of the allied offensive in world war i

Who fought at the Battle of the Somme? The battle was fought between the Allies British and French on one side and the German Empire on the other. Many of the British soldiers saw their first fighting at the Battle of the Somme. They were part of a volunteer army called Kitchener's Army because they were recruited by Lord Kitchener.

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Groups within the army were called Pal's battalions because the volunteers were guaranteed to be placed in battalions with their friends and neighbors.

Troops attacking from the trenches Source: Library and Archives Canada Who were the leaders? Leading up to the Battle For nearly two years since the First Battle of the Marne, the two sides had been engaged in trench warfare along the western front.

The front had hardly moved. The British and French were planning a major offensive attack at the Somme in hopes of breaking the stalemate and pushing the Germans out of France.

  1. In an attempt to break the stalemate, the Allies made another major troop landing on August 6 at Sulva Bay, combined with a northwards advance from Anzac Cove towards the heights at Sari Bair and a diversionary action at Helles.
  2. In the face of this assault, the German 7th and 9th Armies begin a withdrawal from the Marne. In all, some 480,000 Allied forces took part in the Gallipoli Campaign, at a cost of more than 250,000 casualties, including some 46,000 dead.
  3. On the Turkish side, the campaign also cost an estimated 250,000 casualties, with 65,000 killed.
  4. Operation 'Michael', the first of the offensives, began on the damp and misty morning of 21 March 1918. July 15-17, 1918 - The last German offensive of the war, the Marne-Reims Offensive, begins with a two-pronged attack around Reims, France, by 52 divisions.
  5. Unlike earlier offensives, the Amiens assault would not be preceded by bombardment so as to preserve the element of surprise. October 14, 1918 - Germans abandon positions along the Belgian coast and northernmost France as the British and Belgians steadily advance.

However, their plans were changed when the Germans went on the offensive and attacked the French at the Battle of Verdun. French troops were sent to Verdun to hold off the Germans. The French also demanded that the British push up the attack at the Somme from August 1st to July 1st in hopes that German forces would be diverted from Verdun to the Somme. They believed that this bombardment would destroy the front lines of the German trenches allowing the soldiers to walk in and take over.

They bombarded the Germans constantly for eight straight days with 3,000 guns. They fired over 1,600,000 shells. However, the Germans were warned of the bombardment.

  • In an attempt to break the stalemate, the Allies made another major troop landing on August 6 at Sulva Bay, combined with a northwards advance from Anzac Cove towards the heights at Sari Bair and a diversionary action at Helles;
  • The severe effects that chemical weapons such as mustard gas and phosgene had on soldiers and civilians during World War I galvanized public and military attitudes against their continued use;
  • Within two days, the Germans cross the Aisne River and rapidly advance westward, coming within 50 miles of Paris;
  • Unlike earlier offensives, the Amiens assault would not be preceded by bombardment so as to preserve the element of surprise;
  • The Second Battle of the Marne turned the tide of war decisively towards the Allies, who were able to regain much of France and Belgium in the months that followed.

They took shelter and waited. Little real damage was done to the German fortifications and many of the British shells were duds and never even exploded. The Battle The Allied commanders refused to take warning that the bombardment didn't work.

After eight days, on July 1, 1916, they ordered the attack.

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Thousands of British soldiers got out of their trenches and began to advance on the German lines. They were easily gunned down by the Germans. It was the worst day in the history of British warfare. They suffered around 60,000 casualties including 20,000 dead on that first day of battle. Despite the heavy casualties, the Allies continued to attack. They didn't let up on the attack until November 18. During that time they gained around seven miles of territory, but suffered around 623,000 casualties including 423,000 British and 200,000 French.

The Germans had around 500,000 casualties.

  1. August 21, 1918 - The British 3rd Army begins an attack along a 10-mile front south of Arras, while the adjacent 4th Army resumes it attack in the Somme, as the Germans continue to fall back.
  2. The defeat meant the end of German plans for a quick victory in France. German Spring Offensives March 21, 1918 - Germany's all-out gamble for victory begins upon the launch of the first of a series of successive spring offensives on the Western Front.
  3. German casualties were high, particularly amongst the best units. Here, the Germans do not fall back and the battle soon resembles action from earlier years in the war.
  4. The largest gains took place where the Allies were most willing to give ground. September 26, 1918 - The U.

With over 1,000,000 total casualties on each side, the Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest battles in human history. Battle of the Somme Map. Click map for larger view Results Historians today dispute the impact of the battle.

Some say that British Commander Haig wasted men and resources in a flawed battle plan. Others say that he had no choice but to move ahead with the attack in order to relieve the French at the Battle of Verdun. Interesting Facts about the Battle of the Somme Because many men from the same town were grouped together in the British Pal's battalions, when a battalion was wiped out, often this meant that all the men from a given town in Britain were killed.

The first tanks to engage in battle were at the Battle of the Somme. The British commanders were so confident the German defenses were destroyed that they loaded down the attacking soldiers with supplies and ordered them to walk. These soldiers were quickly gunned down. The Allies lost around 89,000 men per mile of territory gained.

The attack ended in November mostly due to heavy snow in the region. Activities Take a ten question quiz about this page. Learn More about World War I: