18/11/1916 The Somme: one more push

At their recent conference in Paris Allied leaders decided to hit the Central Powers with simultaneous offensives in May next year. In the meantime Haig wants to keep the pressure on the Germans by launching more attacks on the Somme. His hope is that the winter will be sufficiently mild to keep the battle going without a break until next year. So today Gough launches another assault on the Ancre sector of the Somme, hoping to exploit the previous capture of Beaumont Hamel.

British and Canadian troops make some gains, but as always there is no breakthrough. And losses are high, with the assault troops taking some 10,000 casualties. Considering that this is an attack in just one sector of the Somme rather than the whole battlefront, these losses are considerable.

As well as the guns of the Germans, the attacking troops now must battle the elements. Autumnal rain has turned much of the battlefield into a quagmire. There are reports of men dying from exhaustion as they try to extricate themselves from the mud.

And by now snow is starting to fall on the Somme. The men attacked this morning in sleet. Worse weather is clearly coming. Haig’s plan to keep the battle going through the winter is starting to look rather fanciful.

image source (The Quietus)

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