13/10/1916 Haig and Rawlinson prepare for a bloody winter on the Somme

British efforts continue on the Somme. A large-scale assault on yesterday has been another disastrous failure. Rawlinson meets with his subordinates and identifies a number of reasons for their lack of success. The Germans are becoming more tenacious in their defence, despite Haig’s claims that their morale is at the point of collapse. Their tactics are also continuously developing, with machine guns placed well behind the frontline now the great plague of advancing British troops.

Rawlinson notes thought that the British are creating problems for themselves with how they organise their attacks. The men seem to always go over the top in the middle of the day, robbing themselves of any element of surprise. Rawlinson proposes that henceforth attacks should take place at different times. He also calls for more effective digging of trenches at the front for troops to attack from, to make it easier to coordinate infantry assaults with creeping barrages. And he looks for more effective aerial observation of enemy positions before attacks are launched.

Despite the worsening weather, there is no sign of the battle coming to an end. Haig visited Rawlinson yesterday and said that the attacks must continue. Rawlinson is increasingly pessimistic as to the chances of success, but Haig insists that the men must keep attacking until bad weather makes it impossible to do so. He even hopes that the battle will continue through the winter, if it is not a particularly harsh one.

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