Dead troops by barbed wire, Battle of the Somme

Troops were sitting ducks when they encountered barbed wire that their artillery had failed to cut during the Battle of the Somme.

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Peter MacDonald

Posted: 02 Jul 2010

this is a very good picture of the tradgedy that befell the British troops on the 1st day on the Somme, of the 1500 artilery guns that bombarded the German frontlines more than a thousand of the guns were light artilery peices, consequently their shells had no effect on the strands of barbed wire that faced the approaching infantry, also they were even more useless at killing germans in their frontlines as the Germans were ensconsed up to 30 feet deep in their shelters below their trenches, so they were able to sit the barrage out and wait its end. The German officer command were well versed in British battle tactics on the Somme and were laying in wait once the british assault began. also during the week long british bombardment, British Battalion commanders sent out reconnaissance parties, as was a standing operating procedure, to view the damage done by the artilery, especially noting the barbed wire states as this was what was going to win or lose the first day of the battle, to the commanders horror the intelligence reported the wire still intact, and unfortunately the Battalion commanders failed to pass this on to General Haig and his staff, these commanders did this for their own reasons which can be speculated on , Haig being a Calvery man understood little about infantry and artillery coordinated attacks on trenches with deep belts of barbed wire, and probably would have dismmissed their fears of a probable slaughter due to the wire being uncut, the Irish Division commanders acted on the Intelligence and ordered their men to ditch their packs and move forward into no mans land before the end of the British barrage and instructed men to fire and manouvre while assaulting, this was very effective for them as they gained great success in capturing all their first day objectives, while the unfortunate british were left as in the pic.