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Britain During the Great War, 1915- 16


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The Battle of the Somme, 1916


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The Battle of the Somme, started on 1st July 1916, before Lloyd George's appointment. The engagement typified the weaknesses of the military thinking of the time. The moral of the men was incomparable - it was by far the greatest volunteer force ever to go into battle, but the generals were elderly and lacked imagination. There was still a great belief in cavalry, and large numbers of horses were stationed in France, never to be used. Haig wished to conduct an offensive in the north of France, but he was required to obey Joffre's command, and Joffre insisted that the offensive should take place where the two armies joined, which happened to be on the Somme, where no strategic advantage could be gained. On the first day of fighting there were 19,000 killed, and 57,000 casualties in all - the greatest loss in a single day ever suffered by a British army and the greatest suffered by any army in the First World War. Haig, contrary to his original plan, continued the offensive right through to November. Nothing was gained as a result, and the "zest and idealism" of the men who had volunteered for the war was destroyed. Lloyd George was angered by the failure of the offensive, and believed Robertson and Haig had misled him. During the same period there was also a failure of a Russian offensive. Rumania joined the Allies, but was rapidly conquered by the Germans.
Contents of
Britain During the Great War, 1915- 16

1 Britain, 1915: The formation of the coalition government: Asquith and Lloyd George
2 Britain 1915: The Dardanelles campaign and the emphasis on the Western Front
3 Britain, 1916: Introduction of Conscription
4 The Easter Rising. 1916
5 Death of Kitchener, June 1916
6 The Great War: Submarine warfare and the Battle of Jutland
7 The Battle of the Somme, 1916
8 Britain, 1916: The Fall of Asquith - Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister
9 Britain and the Great War: war aims and diplomacy
10 Women and Industry in Britain during the Great War
11 Britain: The Funding of the Great War and Inflation

Related articles: (1) The Course of the Great War - Its Impact on Britain 1914 - 15, (2) Britain During the Great War, 1915- 16