Saturday 6 August 2016

Day Thirty Seven on the Somme

Sunday 6th August 1916 From our Correspondent in the Field

The Germans finally counter-attacked the British and Australian positions at Pozières, won on Friday night, this morning. That this has taken so long suggests either that particular care was taken, or that German reserves are running out or, of course, both these factors together. The counter-attack failed and the enemy has dug in short of the crest of the ridge.

If the Germans are, indeed, running out of reserves, it would hardly be surprising. This major offensive has now been going on for over five weeks and has involved a major effort by the French armies immediately on our right as well as the armies of Britain and her Empire. Add to this the fact that the Germans have been bogged down in what is, by all accounts, the bloodiest struggle of this war so far around the French city of Verdun since 21st February, 168 days ago. Add to this also that the Germans still have substantial forces facing the Russians. There was an unsuccessful offensive by the Russians this Spring and, as I write this, another offensive, master-minded by General Brusilov has been under way since 4th June(1)

(1) This offensive was highly successful against Austro-Hungarian armies in Ukraine, forcing the Germans to reduce operations around Verdun and hurry men east to assist its hapless ally. The offensive ended on 20th September with around half a million Russian casualties, nearly a million Austrian casualties and around 35,000 German casualties. Thus in terms of blood-shed it was far costlier even than Verdun (where casualties over an eleven month period were around 550,000 French and 450,000 German). 

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