The idea was the British troops, and a combination of French, Belgian, Dutch was to wait for the artillery to stop pounding near the German Frontlines and the soldiers were to walk across no mans land with rifles on their shoulders. As there would be no resistance.
What happened, was the artillery started, but most of the Germans were bunkered below the ground as they suspected an attack. So they waited out the bombardment, which made huge craters which were later manned by German soldiers.
Then the artillery stopped, and the soldiers never walked they ran and it formed an L shape along the 14mile trenches that the soldiers came from, some walked but most ran creating an L shape as said.
But before they got there, they were gunned down with little resistance to the Germans. Some made it to the front lines of the Germans in the most hard hit places, but only a handful.
Although Haig gave the order, he received that order by Telegram from the General Staff and Politicians back in England. The General Staff comprising mostly of Aristocratic Lords. Yes its true they sat eating cakes and drinking tea from 6.30am in London, while soldiers at the same time in France 7.30am (GMT+1) mostly ran to their deaths in No Mans Land.
Was a travesty, and many of the working class back in Britain were in an uproar over it all, was the aristocracy using the lower classes to do mundane tasks and dangerous ones while they were safe. That was soon brushed under the carpet when the march forward did eventually happen.
Although close to 60,000 died on the battle field, whats not known much is 25,000 soldiers were executed for desertion during the next couple of days for not going over the top.
My great-great grandfather and great grandfather were in that battle, my great grandfather survived but my great-great grandfather did not. My great grandfather never ever forgave the British Army for what happened even on his death bed at 93, even he knew it was a half-arsed order, or as he would put it "Big arsed lords showing off to ladies in London. But hadn't a clue"
And what one veteran says can only be used to say what happened to that veteran.
It is not descriptive of the actual battle at all--only of one sector on the first day of the five month battle.
146,000 were killed in the battle, the 60k figure is the total casualties of the first day--many of which were French.
And your mutiny happened in 1917, not during the Somme.
[Edited by Dhampy, 2/21/2010 9:20:57 PM]
Edit- If you wish to find a battle which illustrates the indifference of British generals to the lives of their men, the Somme is not your example.
You should look at operations where British commanded forces almost entirely composed of dominion troops. Gallipoli and Salonika, 3rd Ypres, the campaigns in Africa and the like.
British generals didn't throw away British lives lightly. But they felt no remorse in sending Canadians, Australians and colonials into slaughter.
[Edited by Dhampy, 2/21/2010 9:34:14 PM]
For a few days when the papers got the telegraph of the failure of the push there was madness in the streets. It did happen. Yes there was a huge uproar in 1917 also, but for a few days after the 1st July there was chaos.
Yeah it was his view, one soldiers view, but for years he told the story before his late 100's. And he always told of the carnage and horror, and the shelling from the Germans after the initial push on day 1 onto no-mans land to kill the wounded who were in craters and hiding from German machine gunners trying not to move, injured, cold, frightened. And how futile it was.
Wilfred Owen a poet, wrote a poem called Futility to describe it all, he was killed a week before the end of the war.
And I can recount what my great grandfather would say. He would tell of the stories of how the relations to Lords and Ladies in the UK had plush trenches further back even low ranking soldiers, with servants and good beds and good food, while the common soldiers up front had terrible conditions, had to suffer from constant shelling, mustard gas attacks, multitude of fungal disease to the feet, deaths, bodies being piled everywhere, cold, eating mostly corned beef that was "Mostly fat". And how the upper class nitwits as a graceful gesture gave the soldiers a sip of Brandy before they went "over the top".
I agree with that, their greatest achievement during it was the attrition on German forces. Which ultimately won it in my opinion.
Since you edited there, The Australians and Canadians had their own forces and generals.
The Australians fighting near Turkey.
The Canadians in France, and it was a Canadian who shot down and killed the Red Baron :P