La grande Guerre - Bataille de la somme 1916
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  1. #1
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    Oct 2005
    western washington state
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    Default La grande Guerre - Bataille de la somme 1916

    Joe Sacco is an illustrator/commentator

    his 400 foot fresco on the wall of a Paris metro recently opened

    it depicts the opening day of Battle of the Somme 1 July 1916

    one million men were killed or wounded in the 18 week long hostilities

    war horses---8 million perished in the course of WW I
    25 % from combat injuries---the remainder from "debility"
    many surviving horses developed a form of ptsd--they could not be put back
    into civilian service

  2. #2
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    Nov 2009
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    I found this website The Battle of the Somme It said that 88,000 Allied men lost their lives for every one mile gained in the assault against the Germans. Ghastly.

  3. #3
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    May 2013
    Hermantown MN
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    I haven't looked at the link yet but I just wanted to comment on WWI in general and on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in particular.
    WWI, one hundred years past now, showed the type of pointless slaughter which occurs when industrialized nation-states go to war at such a time in history when the lethality and quantity of the weaponry available far exceeded the abilities of those tasked with prosecuting the war.
    Mass production of machine guns meant that a battlefield was far more lethal than ever before in history but it was much more than even that because of the Queen of the battlefield, artillery. Industrialized nation-states could now produce artillery and, just as importantly, the projectiles for them which increased artillery's lethality by an order of magnitude. And they could produce them in abundance. 75%+ of the casualties in that war were the result of artillery fire.
    As easy as it may seem to blame the military leadership, of all the combatants, of uncaring and unimaginative tactics these leaders too had never experienced industrialized warfare on anywhere near the level they now found themselves in. That they were lost and that they reverted to what they knew is hardly surprising. What they knew was send their man to kill the other man and that's exactly what they ordered time and again. The Generals of all sides were certainly guilty of letting this pointless mass slaughter go on far too long for no result but the Generals had bosses too. Those bosses, the political leadership, were not on the battlefield and their exposure was normally limited to reading lists, and looking at numbers of dead and wounded on clean paper which was easily dismissed by burying it on their desks. I place the primary blame for the continual slaughter squarely upon the politicians who started the war and who directed it's prosecution from comfortable estates far from the front.
    As to the Somme in particular. The first day of the battle was, and remains to this day, the darkest, bloodiest day in the history of British Empire. Nearly 20,000 soldiers of the British Empire died on that first day and a further 40,000 were maimed, dismembered and wounded. As is always the case in any war, countless unnoticed and unheralded acts of unimaginable bravery occurred that day. Bravery alone could not however prevail over the heretofore unseen quantity and lethality of modern killing machines which were so profusely in abundance on that field.
    The poor man in the mud, on all sides, had to bear the brunt of the misery and death dealt out that day. That was their lot in life and they knew it. These poor, afraid, gallant men fought and died that day and did all that any man could ask of them. The fact that these men could not carry the day does not diminish what they did one iota. Indeed, to my mind, it elevates them instead.
    Going over the top that first day took incredible fortitude. Going over the top for the next ten weeks took even more balls and more bravery than I can express with mere words.
    At the end the frontline was in essentially the same place it was prior to July 1 1916 before over a million men became casualties.

    If anyone is interested in reading about what I consider one of the most tragic things to happen in that horrible war look up what the "Pals" battalions were and how these groups of friends and siblings were decimated in this battle. As could be expected of a battalion made up of men who had known one another their entire lives the men of the Pals battalions fought and died as one that day. I find that incredibly cruel and astonishingly valiant. The pre-war professional British Army no longer existed after this battle either.
    I'm getting emotional here and I need to stop.
    Thank you for the post Mr. Holland.

    I apologize for my verbosity here. I tend to get that way.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2010
    somewhere in Illinois
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    I believe Somme was the battle where the Germans lobbed 1 million rounds of artillery on the first day alone. Never heard how many the others threw. Terrible war and terrible end result. The set-up for WWII This next war will pale both of those.


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