Thursday 22 September 2016

Day Eighty Four on the Somme

Friday 22nd September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

Today III Corps has been consolidating the Starfish Line which the Germans have abandoned. So this Battle of the Somme moves a little way forward. In addition a trench running from Courcelette towards Le Sars has been abandoned by the enemy and taken over by 23rd Division.

One can only assume that the Germans are suffering. They are still fighting the French at Verdun and our army’s attacks, though they have cost us thousands of dead and injured, must have hurt them as badly. It is noticeable that the German doctrine calls for immediate and heavy counter-attacks when a position is lost and these must inflict as many casualties on them as the initial assault does on our men. For the Germans to give up a number of trenches like this is unusual and may reflect the fact that the enemy are, slowly, being “bled white” as they themselves planned to do to the French at Verdun(1)

(1) The Battle of the Somme would cost around half a million British and Commonwealth casualties and a quarter of a million French. The Germans would lose somewhere between these two figures. The casualties at Verdun were of about the same magnitude – half a million each for French and Germans. This day would prove to be exactly half way through the war.

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