Trench Warfare-Picture Credit Great War Primary Document Archive: Photos of the Great War
The Somme is one of the more notorious battle series in warfare. There aren’t many people in the west who haven’t heard of it in some context or other. Even the most resistant to history lessons have probably watched Blackadder (heck even the sports section of London Tonight on Monday discussed the Somme). Renowned for its devastation, tragedy on both sides, rats, bloodbaths and mudbaths the horror of the Somme is well known.
The Battle of Albert launched the Somme; the Battle of Bazentin Ridge (14th-17th July) marked the beginning of the second stage of this offensive.
The British had captured Mametz Wood on the 12th and to push through German lines General Henry Rawlinson and Lt Gen. Congreve concieved a plan to counter the failings of the early part of the Somme. Though General Haig was doubtful as to its effectiveness the plan was allowed to go ahead and at dawn on the 14th the bombardment began; interspersed with infantry movement forward.
German troops-Picture Credit Great War Primary Document Archive: Photos of the Great War
They captured Bazentin-le-Grand and Bazentin-le-Petit within hours. They then moved to take Longueval and stopped at High Wood, which was still a German stronghold. The next stage of the plan was to move forward to Martinpuich.
British Cavalry-Picture Credit Great War Primary Document Archive: Photos of the Great War
However, in the time that it had taken for the 7th Dragoon Guards and 20th Deccan Horse cavalry to arrive, the Germans had regrouped and readied for an attack. Subsequently the cavalry instead of having a relatively easy run forward, were bombarded with artillery and did not take the wood.
Picture Credit Great War Primary Document Archive: Photos of the Great War
Despite the evident strength of the Germans and the failure to take High Wood the British commanders still moved forward with the push toward Martinpuich, against opposition from within ranks, and on the 15th July that part of the attack began. However, the attack failed and many of the brigades involved lost more than 2/3 of their number. Though tactically the British were victorious they did not take High Wood for another two months and troops were severely depleted.
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