27/7/1916 As the Somme grinds on, politicians become restless but Haig remains confident

Fighting at the Somme has become localised, with troops fighting and dying to secure tiny pockets of ground. One such place is Delville Wood, beside the village of Longueval. South African troops entered the woods earlier in the month but were unable to secure it. Since then it has been the scene of savage fighting as the South Africans and British tried to clear the woods of the enemy while German counter-attacks attempted to expel the Allies and return it to their control.

Today though British troops launch a determined assault to secure the woods. Their attack is preceded by an artillery bombardment so devastating that it shatters the surviving Germans’ ability to resist. The British at last manage to secure Delville Wood.

In London the British government are becoming concerned about the progress of the Battle of the Somme. They are seeing casualty lists becoming ever longer, with no sign that major gains are being made against the enemy. Haig is aware of the government’s concerns, but the British army’s Western Front commander continues to believe that victory is near at hand. He reckons that he just needs six weeks more of “steady offensive pressure” to break the Germans.

image sources:

Battle of Delville Wood, by Ed. H.W. Wilson (Wikipedia)

Douglas Haig, by John Singer Sargent (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

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