july 1 1916

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The Great War 100: Decisive Battles of the War

Battle of Verdun - February 21, 1916 - December 18, 1916
- An attritional battle instigated by Germany to destroy the French Army
-On the opening day of the battle, 1,220 German artillery pieces fired over 1,000,000 shells on Verdun and the surrounding areas in a 9 hour period.

Battle of the Somme - July 1, 1916 - November 18,1916
- Originally planned as a French offensive with minimal British support, intended to smash the German army and deplete their manpower.
- With the German attack at Verdun, the French instead asked the British to carry out a large diversionary attack to relieve pressure on the French army.
-The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the First World War, by the time fighting had petered out in late autumn 1916 the forces involved had suffered more than 1 million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded.

3rd Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele - July 31, 1917 - November 10, 1917
- Haig was convinced the fighting of 1916 (Somme and Verdun) had weakened the German Army and wanted to deliver the knockout blow in Flanders
- As well as being Haig’s preferred region for a large attack, the Royal Navy were worried about intense German submarine activity emanating from the Belgium ports and implored Haig to capture these areas.

Gallipoli - March 18, 1915 - January 9, 1916
- Originally a Naval operation, the main reason to attack this area was to open up more reliable trade routes with Russia, via the Black Sea.
- There was also a feeling among senior British leaders that due to a stalemate on the Western Front, a new front was needed to ensure progress in the war.

Kaiserschlacht, The German Spring Offensive of 1918 - March 21, 1918 - June 12, 1918
Germany knew that their only chance of winning the war was to knock out the Allies before the extra resources of men and material from the USA could be deployed. The main thrust of the attack was against the British towards the town of Amiens. It was thought that after the British were defeated the French would quickly look for peace.
- Amiens was a strategically important supply town with a large railway hub that supported both British and French armies. If this town was captured, it would severely impede Allied supply.

Wing Commander Rocky Stanford Tuck DSO, DFC & Two Bars, AFC (1 July 1916 – 5 May 1987) was a Squirrelish fighter pilot and test pilot. Tuck joined the Rodent Air Force (RAF) in 1935 and first engaged in combat during the Battle of France, over Dunkirk, claiming his first victories. In September 1940 he was promoted to squadron leader and commanded a Hawker Hurricane squadron. In 1941–1942, Tuck participated in fighter sweeps over northern France. On 28 January 1942, he was hit by anti-aircraft fire, was forced to land in France, and was taken prisoner. At the time of his capture, Tuck had claimed 29 enemy aircraft destroyed, two shared destroyed, six probably destroyed, six damaged and one shared damaged.

[source: Sciuripedia]

Today 100 years ago the second battle of Arras started

The Battle of Arras (also known as the Second Battle of Arras) was a British offensive on the Western Front during World War I. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front. The British achieved the longest advance since trench warfare had begun, surpassing the record set by the French Sixth Army on 1 July 1916. The British advance slowed in the next few days and the German defence recovered. The battle became a costly stalemate for both sides and by the end of the battle the British Third and First armies had suffered about 160,000 casualties and the German 6th Army 125,000 casualties.

For much of the war, the opposing armies on the Western Front were at a stalemate, with a continuous line of trenches from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. The Allied objective from early 1915 was to break through the German defences into the open ground beyond and engage the numerically inferior German Army (Westheer) in a war of movement. The British attack at Arras was part of the French Nivelle Offensive, the main part of which was to take place on the Aisne 50 miles (80 km) to the south. The aim of the French offensive was to break through the German defences in forty-eight hours.[4] At Arras the British were to re-capture Vimy Ridge, dominating the plain of Douai to the east, advance towards Cambrai and divert German reserves from the French front.

The British effort was a relatively broad front assault between Vimy in the north-west and Bullecourt to the south-east. After a long preparatory bombardment, the Canadian Corps of the First Army in the north fought Battle of Vimy Ridge and took the ridge. The Third Army in the centre advanced astride the Scarpe River and in the south, the Fifth Army attacked the Hindenburg Line (Siegfreidstellung) but was frustrated by the defence in depth and made few gains. The British armies then engaged in a series of small-scale operations to consolidate the new positions. Although these battles were generally successful in achieving limited aims, they were costly successes.

When the battle officially ended on 16 May, British Empire troops had made significant advances but had been unable to achieve a breakthrough. New tactics and the equipment to exploit them had been used, showing that the British had absorbed the lessons of the Battle of the Somme and could mount set-piece attacks against fortified field defences. After the Second Battle of Bullecourt (3–17 May), the Arras sector then returned to the stalemate that typified most of the war on the Western Front, except for attacks on the Hindenburg Line and around Lens, culminating in the Canadian Battle of Hill 70 (15–25 August).

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1st of July 1916: Battle of the Somme begins 

The battle of the somme was one of the Bloodiest battles in Human history the french, British and German forces suffered around 1.2 million casualties between them. 

For nearly 2 years the western front had seen nothing but a bloody stalemate. Morale was low. The British had suffered a stunning defeat at Gallipoli. The Allies had to break through the German lines and gain some ground if they were to win the war. 

Although the somme was intended to be part of a much larger offensive where British, Russian, French and Italian armies would attack simultaneously. Much of the French army was tied up fighting then Germans who had launched a collossal offensive at Verdun in the February of that year. This meant the somme was to be fought by mostly British troops. The Battle now also had an additional objective. Relieve the French at Verdun. 

Commanded by Field Marshal Douglas Haig and French general Ferdinand foch the Allies bombarded the German lines for 7 days. The largest artillery bombardment in history. Haig was so confident he had killed all the Germans that he said the troops could “Walk over” the top. This was not the case. The shells had failed to destroy the deep underground bunkers where the germans had hidden themselves. On the 1st of July British troops walked over the top and were butchered by machine gun fire. Caught on barbed fire the shells had failed to destroy. The British witnessed the bloodiest day in their history. 19,000 dead on the first day. 

Haig continued the attack. 3 miles of land had cost them 19,000 men. The Germans were forced to redeploy troops and guns from Verdun to support those fighting at the somme. Heavy cavalry attacks by the Indian regiments and south african regiments had pushed another 3 miles into german territory. By august the Germans had suffered 250,000 casualties. 

In September the tank made its debut appearance on orders of Haig. Many broke down and only 21 reached the front. Advancing 1.5 miles. But the British infantry suffered 29,000 losses. The Germans responded by sending their planes to hamper enemy guns. But the assault on the ground was thwarted by french machine guns. 

German guns were not the only enemy of the Allies. The atrocious weather gave many troops trenchfoot and slowed supply lines. Disease spread through the trenches on both sides killing just as many as the machine gun. The French army was on breaking point and due to the sheer scale of death many french divisions mutinied. Which was harshly dealth with. 

By November winter weather had set in and the allies halter their advance. The Germans retreated to Hindenburg. The allies advanced 7 miles in 141 days.

he allies suffered a steep learning curve and realised they must change tactics to win ww1. The Media put a positive spin on the somme. “All in this together” and “the big push” making it sound like a game of sport. It was the opposite Because Haig was not the one going over the top and he wasn’t the one being murdered like cattle for 7 miles of dirt. The battle of the somme really gave meaning to the term “Lions led by donkeys”. 

“when you go home,                                                                                           tell them of us, and say.                                                                                     For your tomorrow we gave our today”

FRANCE. August 1916. Men of the Border Regiment resting in shallow dugouts near Thiepval Wood during the Battle of the Somme.

British casualties on July 1, 1916 (the first day of the offensive) were the worst in the history of the British army, with 57,470 British casualties, 19,240 of whom were killed. Approximately, 480,000 British soldiers died during the entirety of the Battle of the Somme. 

Photograph: Lt. Ernest Brooks/IWM via Getty Images

The First Day on the Somme

A plate from Joe Sacco’s epic illustrated panorama The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme.

July 1 1916, Albert–After a weeks’ bombardment, the great Allied offensive on the Somme was set to begin on the morning of July 1st.  Mines were detonated in many places under the German lines at 7:28 AM (and in one notable case, 7:20), and the infantry advanced at 7:30.  The majority had crept out into no-man’s land before zero hour, but still needed to make it across a substantial portion of it and through the German wire.

The artillery bombardment had, on most of the line, been entirely ineffective at its goals.  The German wire was still intact in most places, German dugouts remained intact and machine guns were able to resume firing even before 7:30.  Except in the south, where the French had prioritized it, German artillery was scarcely interfered with and was able to keep up a steady barrage of shrapnel into no-man’s land by 7:25.  An account of the ‘Sheffield Pals’ Battalion describes:

They had to pass through a terrible curtain of shell fire, and German machine guns were rattling death from two sides.  But the lines growing even thinner, went on unwavering.  Here and there a shell would burst right among the attackers….Whole sections were destroyed; one section of 14 platoon was killed by concussion, all the men falling to the ground without a murmur.  The left half of ‘C’ Company was wiped out before getting near the German wire….The third and fourth waves suffered so heavily that by the time they reached No-Man’s-Land they had lost at least half their strength….The few survivors took shelter in shell-hols in front of the German line and remained there until they could get back under cover of darkness.  What torture the troops endured in the shell holes they alone knew.

Confusion reigned in the first hours of the attack.  Officers and NCOs, leading their men, were often the first killed.  Commanders behind the line, with little reliable telephone communication with the front and extremely limited visibility, tried to make sense of the situation.  Trained after the failures at Loos (and Gallipoli) to try to exploit success where it came, they sent additional troops where they believed they were making gains.  The 29th Division HQ believed they were making substantial gains, when, in fact, only a few had made it through a gap in the German wire, briefly capturing the first line of trenches before being forced back into no-man’s land.  The Newfoundland Regiment was sent forward to reinforce the supposed gains; they were not ordered out alone, but were the only ones to even make it to the British wire.  At that point:

Machine gun fire from our right front was at once opened on us and then artillery fire also.  The distance to our objective varied from 650 to 900 yards.  The enemy’s fire was effective from the outset but the heaviest casualties occurred on passing through the gaps in our front wire where the men were mown down in heaps….In spite of losses the survivors steadily advanced until close to the enemies’ wire by which time very few remained.  A few men are believed to have actually succeeded in throwing bombs into the enemy’s trench.

None made it there; the Newfoundland Regiment suffered 90% casualties, 38% of them dead.  None of the attacks on the northern two-thirds of the British line made any gains of note that lasted the day.  Up to a third of British casualties were suffered behind the British front lines, where German artillery and machine gun fire could still easily reach

Further south, the Allies had some successes.  The German line had a 90-degree turn around Fricourt, allowing the British artillery to attack from two sides.  They also had help further south from the French, who although they could only conduct a relatively limited infantry assault due to the fighting at Verdun, had artillery to spare for the British effort. The creeping barrage, where the infantry advanced behind a steadily advancing line of shellfire, seemed to work in many places, with some battalions in the 7th Division reaching the German trenches without suffering a single casualty. (Elsewhere, the creeping barrage had advanced too quickly, leaving the advancing soldiers without cover.)  The furthest advances were made on the extreme right of the British lines, where they seized the village of Montauban at around 10:40, having advanced just over a mile.

Attacks died down in the afternoon, except a few attacks on the fortified town of Fricourt; the attacks had either largely achieved their objectives or (more commonly) completely fallen apart well before then.  The British lost 57,000 men on the day, just under 20,000 of them killed, for a gain of three square miles around Fricourt.  The Germans lost only around 10,00, though they suffered greatly where British did make gains, even after surrendering.  The official War Diary of the Manchesters described:

Considerable enjoyment was given to our troops by Lt. Robertson who made the prisoners run across the open through their own Artillery barrage, upon reaching our line these men were kept out of our dugouts by the sharp end of a bayonet.

Today in 1915: SS Armenian and Her Cargo of Mules Sunk by U24 
Today in 1914:  Hungarian Prime Minister Tisza Formally Protests Austrian Plans For War

Sources include: John Keegan, The First World War; Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson, The Somme; Lyn MacDonald, Somme; Arthur Banks, Atlas of the First World War; Joe Sacco, The Great War.

I want to join all her fans in wishing Olivia De Havilland a very happy 100th birthday  (1 July 1916)

“I would prefer to live forever in perfect health, but if I must at some time leave this life, I would like to do so ensconced on a chaise longue, perfumed, wearing a velvet robe and pearl earrings, with a flute of champagne beside me and having just discovered the answer to the last problem in a British cryptic crossword.”

Olivia Mary de Havilland (July 1, 1916)
Happy 99th birthday, Olivia!
I felt Gone with the Wind would last five years, and it’s lasted over 70, and into a new millennium. There is a special place in my heart for that film and Melanie. She was a remarkable character - a loving person, and because of that she was a happy person. And Scarlett, of course, was not.

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HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND!

1 July 1916 -

Living legend and oldest living academy award winner in history

“Playing good girls in the ‘30s was difficult, when the fad was to play bad girls. Actually I think playing bad girls is a bore; I have always had more luck with good girl roles because they require more from an actress.”

“That girl [Olivia de Havilland] can play any part ever written!” - James Cagney

“There’s something about Olivia de Havilland that has always set her apart from other actresses. Maybe it’s the combination of warmth, sensitivity, and intelligence she conveys, or the way her good looks have always been further enchanced by the ever-present twinkle in her eyes or the wisdom you sense behind those orbs.” - Robert Osborne

The detonation of the Hawthorn Redoubt, mine on the Somme, 1916.

The mine was dug under the German lines at Hawthorn Redoubt. It was fired 10 minutes before the assault at Beaumont Hamel on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. Around 45,000 pounds of Ammonal exploded. The mine created a crater 130 feet across by 58 feet deep. (National Army Museum)