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Trench Battles 1916 The Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme.

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Presentation on theme: "Trench Battles 1916 The Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme."— Presentation transcript:

1 Trench Battles 1916 The Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme

2 Battle of Verdun Aims: Identify the reasons for the German offensive at Verdun. Examine the outcome of the battle

3 Battle of Verdun By 1916 many battles had taken place, thousands of soldiers had lost their lives but neither side had achieved breakthrough. The Germans decided to launch a major offensive against the French at Verdun in order to break the stalemate. The Germans were defeating the Russians on the Eastern Front and were able to send some of their army to the Western Front.

4 The Plan The codename for the attack was ‘Judgement’. Verdun was an important area to the French – it had twenty major forts that had protected the French border for many years. General von Falkenhayn believed the French would defend this city at all costs. He planned a strategy of ATTRITION. He wanted to ‘bleed the French white’ and kills so many French soldiers that the French would be unable to carry on.

5 The Battle 140,000 German troops started the attack on the 21 st February. 1200 field guns aimed 2,500,000 shells along a 6 mile line. The French only had 30,000 troops to oppose the Germans. By February 25 th 10,000 French soldiers had been captured and the huge fort at Douaumont had been captured – 5 miles from Verdun ‘Men were squashed. Cut in two or divided from top to bottom. Blown into showers; bellies turned inside out; skulls forced into the chest as if by a blow from a club’ French soldier

6 General Petain He was put in charge of the defence of Verdun. He famously said ‘ils ne passeront pas’. Only one road into the town was open to transport troops and supplies ‘ The Sacred Way’. The French clung onto Verdun but by the end of April the Germans had lost 120,000 men and the French had lost 133,000 men The situation was critical.

7 Soldiers’ Views You eat beside the dead; you drink beside the dead, you relieve yourself beside the dead and you sleep beside the dead. To die from a bullet seems to be nothing; parts of our being remain intact; but to be dismembered, torn to pieces, reduced to pulp, this is the fear that flesh cannot support People will read that the front line was Hell. How can people begin to know what one word – Hell - means

8 Battle of Verdun - Summary In Feb 1916 the Germans decided to launch a major offensive against the French at Verdun to break the stalemate of war. The strategy was one of ‘attrition’. They aimed to kill as many French soldiers as possible and wear the French down. By the end of February the Germans were within 5 miles of Verdun. The French clung on to Verdun but the situation was critical so the British decided to bring forward a planned attack at the Somme to July 1916.

9 The Battle of the Somme

10 The British attacked at the Somme for two reasons: 1)They wanted to break the stalemate of war. 2)The attack was originally planned for August 1916 but the British decided to attack sooner to help take the pressure off the French who were suffering terrible losses at Verdun. This was the first time that the British provided more troops than the French in an offensive.

11 The Plan Field Marshall Haig believed a huge offensive would achieve a breakthrough. This battle became known as the ‘Big Push’. A week long artillery bombardment by 1500 guns would take place. Britain’s new volunteer soldiers were ready to fight. They would go over the top in waves of 1,000 men, 90 metres apart.

12 The Plan

13 Source Investigation When historians are investigating past events they have to study both primary and secondary sources to build up a picture of what happened. Your task is to study a variety of sources about the Battle of the Somme and uncover the reasons why this attack did not go according to plan.

14 The Outcome of the Battle 60,000 British casualties on the first day – 20,000 killed and 40,000 wounded. The battle came to an end in November – the Allies had advanced 9 km – 5 miles. The British suffered 420,000 casualties, French 195,000 and the Germans around 650,000. Many Pals Battalions suffered catastrophic losses – local newspapers were filled with list of the dead, wounded and missing. The enthusiasm for war came to an end with the slaughter of 1916.

15 The Outcome of the Battle The number of cemeteries in the Somme area reflects the heavy fighting that took place during the war. The Thiepval Memorial, opened in 1932 contains the names of 72,000 British and South African soldiers who died at the Somme and have no known grave. 90% of the names on this memorial died during the 1916 battle.

16 Trench Battles 1915-1916 Battle of Verdun 1915 *Germans attacked the French. *Aimed to achieve a major breakthrough *Huge casualties on both sides *British attacked at the Somme to take the pressure off the French. Battle of the Somme 1916 *British attacked the Germans 1 st July 1916 *Aimed to achieve a major breakthrough *7 day artillery bombardment *1 st day – 60,000 casualties – 20,000 dead. *Tanks used for the first time. *Battle lasted until November – 5 miles gained

17 Why Did the Battle of the Somme Fail? German spy planes spotted build up of troops Artillery bombardment did not destroy barbed wire Faulty guns and ammunitions Germans built concrete dug-outs 10m underground Cloud/mist stopped British planes locating German artillery Soldiers weighed down by heavy equipment

18 News of the World – 2 nd July 1916 3 4 2 1 5


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