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The Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme
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In the trenches of 1914-1918 What were the trenches? Although most of us think primarily of the Great War in terms of life and death in the trenches, only a relatively small proportion of the army actually served there. The trenches were the front lines, the most dangerous places. But behind them was a mass of supply lines, training establishments, stores, workshops, headquarters and all the other elements of the 1914-1918 system of war, in which the majority of troops were employed. The trenches were the domain of the infantry, with the supporting arms of the mortars and machine-guns, the engineers and the forward positions of the artillery observers. Why were the trenches there? The idea of digging into the ground to give some protection from powerful enemy artillery and small arms fire was not a new idea or unique to the Great War. What were the trenches like? The type and nature of the trench positions varied a lot, depending on the local conditions. The enemy had a very similar system of trenches.

Gallipoli By early 1915, the war on the Western Front had reached a stalemate. While lines of trenches stretched through Flanders and France, Russia was struggling to resist the forces of Germany and Austria-Hungary in the east. In response to a request for aid from its ally, the British War Cabinet sanctioned a plan to attack the Ottoman Empire. On 25 April, Commonwealth forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsula and met fierce Turkish resistance. Men from across the British Empire, along with their French allies, fought across the peninsula: from Helles in the south, through the ridges and gullies of Anzac, to the plains of Suvla in the north. The sites selected below represent just some of the CWGC cemeteries and memorials on the Gallipoli peninsula:  The Helles Memorial Standing on the tip of the peninsula, this is the battle memorial for the entire Gallipoli campaign. Lancashire Landing Cemetery Nearby 'W beach' was heavily fortified and overlooked by steep cliffs. Redoubt Cemetery The Nek

BBC Schools - Life in the trenches 31 October 2014Last updated at 15:07 Two British soldiers standing in a flooded communication trench during World War One On the Western Front, the war was fought in trenches. Trenches were long, narrow ditches dug into the ground where soldiers lived all day and night. There were many lines of German trenches on one side and many lines of Allied trenches on the other. In the middle, was no man's land, so-called because it did not belong to either army. Rest Soldiers in the trenches did not get much sleep. Dirty trenches The trenches could be very muddy and smelly.

Two soldiers in flooded trenc Life In The Trenches | WW1 Facts There was nothing glamorous about trench life. World War 1 trenches were dirty, smelly and riddled with disease. For soldiers life in the trenches meant living in fear. In fear of diseases (like cholera and trench foot) and of course, the constant fear of enemy attack. Trench warfare WW1 style is something all participating countries vowed never to repeat and the facts make it easy to see why. Constructing WW1 Trenches The British and the French recruited manpower from non-belligerent China to support the troops with manual labour. 140,000 Chinese labourers served on the Western Front over the course of the First World War (40,000 with the French and 100,000 with the British forces). No Man’s Land The open space between two sets of opposing trenches became known as No Man’s Land because no soldier wanted to traverse the distance for fear of attack. The climate in France and Belgium was quite wet, so No Man’s Land soon became a mud bath. Hell on Earth

Mud Blood and Poppycock The 'Horrors' of the Trenches Source L: The Perception: Mud, Blood and Poppycock, page 76 The perception of soldiering in the Great War is of a young patriot enlisting in 1914 to do his bit, and then being shipped off to France. Source M: Marching: Mud, Blood and Poppycock, page 76 The original BEF, composed of pre-war regulars and reservists, did do quite a lot of marching, but they would have been very unlucky to have to tramp all the way from Boulogne to Belgium. Source N: Trenches: Mud, Blood and Poppycock, page 79 French and German ideas on trench construction differed according to the military philosophy of the two nations. Source O: Trenches: Mud, Blood and Poppycock, page 79 The design and dimensions of British trenches were based on a good British compromise. Source P: Toilets: Mud, Blood and Poppycock, page 85 Despite the tales of rats, lice and general filth, cleanliness and hygiene in the trenches were strictly enforced. Source Q: Rats: Mud, Blood and Poppycock, page 88

The Western Front Association: dedicated to the study of The Great War 1914-18. explore | learn | share British military crime and punishment of 1914-1918 Military law reinforces discipline The maintenance of discipline in the army has always been considered a very serious affair. Whilst it is clear from statistics that there was much ill-discipline in the army throughout the war, most of it was of a non-serious nature. The instances of failure to obey orders are relatively few, and the number of men convicted and suffering from serious punishment was miniscule as a proportion of the whole. The acts of discipline outlined on this page were defined by the Army Act and the Field Service Regulations. Small scale misdemeanours These crimes included everything from matters of individual presentation such as being unshaven, untidy or losing kit; not saluting or addressing superiors correctly; dirty or incorrect equipment; being late on parade or after curfew, etc. Moderately serious offences For moderately serious crimes, a man could elect to be tried by a district court-martial, or be 'convicted' and sentenced by his Commanding Officer.

World War One executions content In World War One, the executions of 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers took place. Such executions, for crimes such as desertion and cowardice, remain a source of controversy with some believing that many of those executed should be pardoned as they were suffering from what is now called shell shock. The executions, primarily of non-commissioned ranks, included 25 Canadians, 22 Irishmen and 5 New Zealanders. Between 1914 and 1918, the British Army identified 80,000 men with what would now be defined as the symptoms of shellshock. The horrors that men from all sides endured while on the front line can only be imagined. “We went up into the front line near Arras, through sodden and devastated countryside. Victor Silvester. Senior military commanders would not accept a soldier’s failure to return to the front line as anything other than desertion. Few soldiers wanted to be in a firing squad. "We were in the trenches. “The two condemned were tied up from head to toe like sausages.

The medical treatment of British casualties in 1914-1918 This page describes the main medical functions in a complex chain that processed the casualty from the front line back to hospitals at home. It is in a simplified format. Many men missed stages altogether, and of course many wounded soldiers were in no condition to know which of these units was caring for them. Aid and Bearer Relay Posts The casualty is likely to have received first medical attention at aid posts situated in or close behind the front line position. Stretcher-bearers carrying an injured man on a stretcher down a twisting trench in Salonika. Field Ambulance This was a mobile medical unit, not a vehicle. This diagram from a Canadian history shows the locations and types of aid posts and dressing stations that supported the 1st Canadian Division during the opening of the Second Battle of Ypres. An Australian Medical Officer attends a wounded man at an Advanced Dressing Station during the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. Click on the image for a full scale view. Base Hospital

History - World Wars: Battle of Passchendaele: 31 July - 6 November 1917 Sir Douglas Haig's Somme Despatch The second Despatch of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Commander in Chief of the British Armies in France and Flanders. Printed in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 29 December 1916. It covered the enormous and critical Battle of the Somme. Haig at his desk in the railway carriage used as a mobile office. General Headquarters, 23rd December, 1916. My Lord, I have the honour to submit the following report on the operations of the Forces under my Command since the 19th May, the date of my last Despatch. 1. Subject to the necessity of commencing operations before the summer was too far advanced, and with due regard to the general situation, I desired to postpone my attack as long as possible. 2. The object of that offensive was threefold: (i.) 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. On the 25th June the Royal Flying Corps carried out a general attack on the enemy's observation balloons, destroying nine of them, and depriving the enemy for the time being of this form of observation. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.