Battle of Somme July 1 1916 – November 1916 Passchendaele

Battle of Somme July 1st 1916 –
November 1916
The Battle of Somme is one of the most bloodiest battles—which
resulted into the death of 1 million allied troops!
Most of the casualties
were caused by the
machine gum.
A weapon General Haig
(commander of British
and Canadian forces at
Somme) said it was
over rated.
This battle was so horrific
that the Germans nick
named the battle (the
blood bath)!
Haig attempted to attack the
Germans by bombarding them
relentlessly for a week with shells.
Following up this massive display of artillery would be twenty-two British
and French divisions, passing through the barriers and occupying the
trenches filled with stunned German soldiers so that his divisions could
head off into the open!
The Germans were
well prepared for
this attended
They built trenches
with extensive
trench lines and
deep shell proof
British intelligence had underestimated the power
of the German defenses…
 By noon on the first day
of the battle the British
had experienced 60,000
 The NFL Regiment “went
over the top” in the third
wave that day with 801
 At role call the next day
only 63 remained the rest
had been killed or
 The Canadians entered
the battle near the village
of Courcelette.
An interesting fact:
Canadian soldiers
gained a reputation for
their bravery and
The Canadian
soldiers were known as
the “storm troops” after
this battle.
It was also at the
Somme where the
British used the tank
for the first time.
When the slaughter ended in November 1916 Haig, the
man many soldier’s blamed for the slaughter, was
promoted to Field-Marshall.
After 141 days of constant fighting the allies had only
advanced 11 kilometers.
The big push had been a failure and both sides were
Walking across “no mans land” was a huge mistake—
the allies were completely slaughtered!
 Lloyd George called the battle of the Somme: ‘The most
gigantic, tenacious, grim, futile and bloody fight ever
waged in the history or war’.
 In August 1917, while the
Canadians had been fighting at
Hill 70, Douglas Haig had
committed the British Army to
capturing the city of
Passchendaele in Belgium.
 Most of the battle field was below
sea level.
 Heavy shelling destroyed
drainage ditches and
unseasonable heavy rains
quickly turned the battlefield
into the sea of mud.
It was during this battle that the
Germans introduced “mustard gas”!
One of the most lethal of all the poisonous
gases used during the war!
 Mustard gas was odorless and
took twelve hours to take effect.
 Once in the soil, mustard gas
remained active for several
 The skin of victims blistering
the guys became sore and
vomiting occurred.
 Mustard gas caused internal
and external bleeding.
 At Passchendaele the Germans
occupied the high ground where
they constructed a series of
concrete machine guns.
 Such machine guns were called:
“pill boxes”.
It was extremely painful and most soldiers had to be
strapped to their beds.
It took four to five weeks to die of mustard gas poisoning.
As British casualties continued
to mount, Haig turned to Currie
and the Canadians to save the
In October the Canadians
moved into the mud filled
The mud was so thick in some
places on the battle field that men
and tanks would often simply
Rather than a massive assault
Currie’s plan called for a series of
smaller attacks that were
designed to make achievable
After each attack Canadians would rest for
days and then the next wave would
 By mid November
the Canadians had
been successful
taking over the
 The Canadians
saved the day!
 However, the victory
had been costly—
more then 16,000
had been killed or
Another pointless battle! The
Germans successfully reoccupied
The words of John McCrae, a soldier, doctor and
poet, are called to mind every year on 11 November.
It was his poem, In Flanders Fields, that was the
inspiration for the poppy as a symbol of