8/11/1916 The Somme: Gough receives an unwelcome visit

Hubert Gough commands one of the British armies at the Somme. The increasingly poor weather suggests that at last the battle is about to wind down, but today Gough receives a visitor who suggests otherwise. The visitor is Launcelot Kiggell, chief of staff to Haig, the overall commander on the Western Front. Kiggell informs Gough that Haig will be going to a conference of the Allied commanders on the 15th, where strategy for next year will be decided. While Haig does not want to put Gough under any kind of pressure, Kiggell informs him that it would greatly strengthen Haig’s position at the conference if Gough’s men could have achieved some kind of victory before it meets.

Gough takes this as meaning that unless the weather becomes completely abominable he has no option but to attack before the conference. He meets with his subordinates and they cobble together a plan to attack and seize the village of Beaumont Hamel. This was to have fallen on the battle’s first day in July, but now they hope that Haig can present the capture of this ruined village to the conference as a prestige victory.

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