29/8/1916 Haig demands Somme progress, prepares to unleash a secret weapon

Allied attacks continue at the Somme. It continues to be nigh impossible to coordinate French and British efforts, so each of the two attacks on their own. A recent British attempt to seize Guillemont, on their right flank, have failed. Further to the left, a series of smaller scale attacks on the Mouquet Farm position have also been bloody failures.

Haig is increasingly exasperated by the lack of success. He has written to Rawlinson, the Somme commander, complaining about the failures of the various attacks. He excoriates Rawlinson for launching too many small-scale attacks and demands a broad front assault to overwhelm the Germans. Somewhat confusingly, he wants the next attack to take place urgently but also to be carefully prepared.

Rawlinson began to plan a new assault on Guillemont. However bad weather and renewed difficulties with Anglo-French coordination have forced its postponement till early September.

For all his exasperation, Haig still retains a confidence that the battle is going well. He notes today that the Germans are a suffering “an all-round loss of morale”. And he has a card up his sleeve that he hopes will shift the balance decisively in his favour. Britain has been working secretly on tracked armoured vehicles that can advance under fire across no-man’s land. Originally known as land battleships, these have now been code-named “tanks” to hide their true purpose. Haig has been promised that the tanks will be ready for action soon. With them he hopes to achieve the breakthrough he has long dreamed of.

image source:

The recently captured village of Pozières (History Today)

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