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Somme Offensive

The name Somme comes from a Celtic word meaning 'tranquility'.

Somme Offensive

This ‘Somme Offensive’ quiz looks at the battle which occurred by the river Somme.

In December 1915 the Chantilly Conference met to discuss Allied plans for the year ahead. It was decided that in June of 1916 the Allies would attack the Germans on all fronts simultaneously, giving them little time to relocate their troops. The French were to attack with British support across the river Somme. In February 1916 the Germans began their attack on Verdun and the French troops intended for the Somme Offensive were sent to defend the town. Consequently, the British forces, intended for a supporting role, became the core of the attack. What was to follow was one of the bloodiest engagements of World War One.

1.
The Allied artillery bombardment of the German positions commenced on 24th June 1916 as a prelude to the ground assault. For how long did the bombardment last?
For one hour
For one day
For one week
For one month
The British and French infantry attacked on 1st July, 7 days after the bombardment had started. This first engagement of the campaign, the Battle of Albert, lasted until 13th July and was a victory for the Allies. However, the British suffered 57,470 casualties, 19,240 of whom were killed
2.
Battle of Fromelles took place between 19th - 20th July 1916. The British attacked the German forces who outnumbered them 2:1. The battle was the first appearance on the Western Front of troops from which country of the British Empire?
Australia
India
Canada
Burma
The attack was a failure for the Allies. The number of Germans had been underestimated and the Allied troops were inexperienced. The attack was driven back and of the 7,080 British casualties, 5,533 were inflicted on one division of the Australian Imperial Force; the 5th Australian Division
3.
The South African 1st Infantry Brigade also appeared on the Western Front for the first time during the Somme Offensive. They helped to secure the British right flank when they took and held 'Delville'. What was Delville?
A farm
A bridge
A village
A wood
The aim of the second phase of the Somme Offensive was to take control of fortified villages, woods or land which offered any strategic advantage, such as observation points. The South Africans took Delville Wood and held it for 6 days until they were relieved. They sustained the loss of 2,536 men
4.
On the 9th September 1916, the village of Ginchy was finally taken from the Germans after 7 days and how many attempts?
Two attempts
Four attempts
Six attempts
Eight attempts
The village was actually taken from the Germans on September 3rd, but a German counter attack successfully retook it. Further attempts to take the village were made on September 4th and 5th but both met with failure. On 9th September 1916 Ginchy fell and the second phase of the Somme Offensive was won
5.
The third and final phase of the Somme Offensive began on 15th September 1916 with the British attack at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. The British Machine Gun Corps were the first to use which newly developed weapon in this battle?
Poison gas
Rocket launchers
Tanks
Howitzers
The Corps, only founded in October 1915, was disbanded in 1922. From it the Royal Tank Corps, later to become the Royal Tank Regiment, was formed
6.
The Battle of Le Transloy took place between 1st October and 11th November 1916 and was at first successful. The Allied advance was eventually halted by what?
German air-raids
An outbreak of 'flu
German mines
The weather
Rain turned the battlefield into mud which, when combined with the destruction of the land by artillery shells, made it almost impossible to cross. The Germans used these delays to further fortify their positions and to increase their numbers. The Allied attack was abandoned after 42 days
7.
In August 1916 the German Army used 1.5 million artillery shells. Due to the Allied attacks in September 1916, the number of German shells fired increased to what amount?
5.1 million shells
4.1 million shells
3.1 million shells
2.1 million shells
The effect of this increased rate of shell fire was poor as the Germans, having lost their vantage points, were firing blind onto unknown enemy positions. It is also estimated that up to a quarter of the German guns could not be fired due to mechanical failures
8.
The Somme Offensive ended on 18th November 1916 with British victory in which battle?
The Battle of the Ancre
The Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Morval
The Battle of Jutland
After the Battle of the Ancre the Offensive paused until January 1917. On the last day of battle the weather was poor with fog and snow making conditions harsh for both sides
9.
During the three months of the Somme Offensive, how far did the Allies advance into German-held land?
As far as 1 mile (1.6 km)
As far as 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
As far as 7 miles (11.3 km)
As far as 10.5 miles (16.9 km)
For all the hardship endured and the lives lost (Allied casualties are estimated to have been 485,000 and German casualties 630,000) at its deepest point, the Allied advance had won approximately 7 miles from the Germans
10.
What three-word phrase has come to describe the Battle of the Somme?
Mud, blood and futility
Guns, Huns and victory
Death, disease and defeat
Strength, courage and honour
Winston Churchill and Prime Minister of the time, Lloyd George, were amongst the many who criticised the way the battle was fought and the huge loss of life. Later thought is that the new weapons and methods of warfare of an industrial army required experience in how to use them. Whether the commanders were at fault or not, the Somme Offensive was still a bloody battle in which many young men were to lose their lives

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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