Debrief

We used Google Trends to find six common questions on The First Day of the Somme… and now an expert gives informed answers

Why was the Somme Offensive launched?

The Western Front was locked in stalemate and hopes of a swift victory were dashed. In summer 1915, the Chantilly Conferences, between representatives of Britain, France, Russia, Serbia and Italy, agreed that synchronised multi-theatre actions were needed to break the deadlock. The Anglo-French contribution to this ‘Big Push’ emerged in the form of an operation where the two armies met on a 25-mile line along the River Somme.

Initially, the French were to take on the brunt of the effort, but a major German offensive towards Verdun starting in February 1916 forced them to divert much of the strength allocated to the Somme plan. This changed the strategic aim of the Somme Offensive and on July 1, 1916, the British began the attempt to relieve the pressure by diverting German strength from Verdun. In this it was successful and in 1917 the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, shortening their defensive frontier.

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