14/2/1916 Haig and Joffre plan their summer offensive

Allied military leaders met at Chantilly in December, agreeing that in the summer of 1916 they would attempt to overwhelm Germany and Austria-Hungary by launching near simultaneous offensives on all fronts. Now France’s Joffre and Britain’s Haig meet to agree plans for a combined summer offensive on the Western Front. They confirm that the offensive will take place at the junction of the British and French armies in the Somme valley. The assault will be a combined operation with British forces supporting a larger French effort.

Since the start of the war the British army has expanded from a tiny base. There are still question marks over how combat-ready the new soldiers are, but the hope is that when the Battle of the Somme begins they will be ready enough to do the needful. The new soldiers should also be able to make up in enthusiasm for what they lack in martial skills. In any case, with the highly trained and battle-hardened French making most of the effort, the British should be able to ride their ally’s coat-tails. As the Italians and Russians are also due to attack the enemy this summer, it must surely be that the Somme offensive will deal the Germans a blow from which they will be unable to recover.

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