Short Stories & Novelettes for the Discerning Martial Citizen

Somme-Man

The Limits of Foresight On the Road To The Great War

One hundred years ago today, long lines of British infantry climbed out of their trenches in the Somme region of France and hurled themselves at the entrenched Germans. The next 24 hours would turn out to be the bloodiest day in British military history, with 60,000 casualties. Battalions lost 90 percent of their personnel in an hour. One division, the 36th, took 5,000 casualties in 2 days (56 percent) and had to be pulled out — after one year of training, it had lasted 48 hours in combat. The offensive petered out after three months, having advanced only five miles at the cost of 350,000 British and 70,000 Dominion casualties. For the high casualties and lack of success, historians and memoirists have harshly criticized British generals — “donkeys,” in Alan Clark’s estimation, and “arrogant incompetents” in Robert…

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