3/7/1916 The Somme: a failed night attack

The Somme battle continues. The British and French are not attacking all along their line but staging a series of local offensives here and there to make such gains at they can. The French make good progress, breaching the second line of the German defences and taking many prisoners.

The British meanwhile attempt a night attack on the enemy lines. Things go well at first with surprise allowing them to overrun the village of La Boiselle. Then things begin to go wrong. Units lose their cohesion in the darkness and communications break down. The attack has been badly prepared and the troops become confused. Snipers and counter-attacks extract an increasingly heavy toll on the British. They fall back towards their start line, ending up barely any further on than when they started.

The Germans are suffering too in the fighting. Falkenhayn has insisted that no ground should be voluntarily ceded to the enemy. He has also ordered that counter-attacks must be made to retrieve any lost position. He has accepted the Allied challenge at the Somme, much as the French accepted his at Verdun.

image source

British troops escorting German prisoners to the rear (National Army Museum)

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