Thursday, May 10, 2012

Explain reasons why the somme and verdun were worth fighting for.

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Customarily any contemporary scholar or historian would agree with the fact that a successful battle is one that is planned, orchestrated, and accomplished in such an enigmatic and intricate manner that the attacking side of the battle will prevail and will also benefit both economically and militarily. However the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme had thwarted the very notion of the “successful battle”, as neither the Allies nor the Germans had made any significant gains, achievements, or progress within the year 116 in which the battles were fought.

The ensuing paragraphs will attempt to explain as to why these two battles were not worth fighting for both economically and militarily.

From the very beginning, the city of Verdun was of no real strategic importance for the French forces. Being situated approximately 5km northeast of Paris and bordering on the outskirts of a neutral Luxembourgese borderline, the mentioning of Verdun would hardly raise an eyebrow amongst the French forces, as most of the guns entrenched inside the 1 massive concrete forts within the city were removed from their positions and were taken to help their armies to fight in other more important places. In early February 116, when the German armies had captured the trench lines in front of them, a heated debate between French generals and politicians arose in regards to the actual importance of Verdun strategically. Despite the generals arguing that Verdun was of no military use to the French, and that they would be glad to give the city up to the Germans without any loss of life or resources, the French Prime Minster and Statesman Aristide Briand directly insisted otherwise, asserting that the generals under his command were “cowards” and that he would “sack the lot of them” if they did not comply with his requests. Perhaps Briand at this point of time was an over-zealous patriot of his mother country, and like many civilians in France thought that the city of Verdun was the triumphant symbol of their country’s strength.

Despite having his requests made, there was only one road traversing to Verdun and there was a desperate need of men, food, and ammunition. For five strenuous and tedious months, 6,000 vehicles a day drove along the “Sacred Way” and poured countless supplies of men, food, and ammunition in to the city, which as a result ended up saving the city from defeat. By July, 8,000 German soldiers and 15,000 French soldiers with a total of million shells had all gone to waste � all of this for just one meager city 5km away?? Why not concentrate on more strategically decisive battles in other fronts than to pile up all of one’s resources in to defending a once “strongly fortified” city?? Militarily this battle did in fact boost French morale within the army and also prevented Germany from breaking the Western front, but economically this placed a huge strain on the armies under Joffre’s command who was preparing to defend the Somme against the British.

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The Somme however was supposed to relieve pressure on Verdun for the French, but instead caused a lot more damage for both the Allies and the Germans. This historical yet most malignant and savagely vicious battle began with the bombardment of the German trenches in order to “weaken” their outpost. Since the Germans already knew for weeks that the attack was coming due to their scout planes observing the movement of men and guns in to position, it is no wonder that the 00,000 men (equivalent to 1 Divisions) which were sent over the top by General Haig all died whilst going over the top. Just within that first day, 0,000 British soldiers were killed and 5,000 were wounded. Despite the advice of Haigs’ experts who advised him not to proceed with further attacks, he ignored their insightfulness and continued his arrogant orders of sending out men to their fates. Day after day, the same tragic events happened to the British soldiers, as they could not possibly get through the barbed wire as it was massively entangled due to the German machine gun fire entangling the wire even more. Besides losing men, General Haig also decided to send 50 tanks in to the battle during the month of September. Once more, of these tanks broke down and the rest got stuck in the mad. Economically this was the first time that tanks were being used in warfare, and evidently this ‘tactical move’ by General Haig had failed miserably. Militarily this significant loss of men had further degraded British morale, with 1 divisions already going to waste.

By the end of this battle, the Allies had lost 60,000 soldiers and the Germans had lost 450,000 soldiers altogether. With these significant loss of casualties and resources, it is no wonder that many may argue that both the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme were both a complete waste of time and money, and thus were nor worth fighting for in the first. With Verdun, the French had gained their pride, glory and honour but to what cost?? 15,000 soldiers had perished under the fire of million shells from the Germans, and yet by protecting Verdun the French had physically gained nothing, both militarily and economically. With the Somme, the British had lost 60,000 men and 50 tanks but again to what cost?? All the Allies had gained by the end of the Battle of the Somme was a meagre 15km of land, but nothing more. However had the French ignored Verdun, perhaps the Germans may have broken the Western front and thus there wouldn’t have been a cause for the Allies to engage in the Battle of the Somme. Moreover, if both of the battles were carefully and meticulously planned, then perhaps the battles may have been worth fighting for.

But overall, with the Allies losing approximately a million men and the Germans losing 7,000 men including all the resources lost alongside the battles such as tanks and other ammunition, both of these battles can be classified as battles that were not worth fighting for in the first place.

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