Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source8
Diagram showing the deployment of German forces on the western front between July and November 1916
(Catalogue ref: WO 153/1258)
  • One of the main aims of the attack at the Somme in 1916 was to relieve the pressure on the French army caused by the German attack at Verdun.
  • This source was made to show the impact on German forces of the British attack on the Somme. It shows the numbers of rifles per yard of German armies on the various parts of the western front in July 1916 and again in November.
  • It shows a 30% drop in German troop numbers at Verdun between July and November. It shows a 65% increase at the Somme. This suggests that when the British attacked at the Somme, German troops at Verdun were moved to defend the Somme.
  • If you want to, you can use this diagram to work out troop numbers. Step 1. Multiply the number of miles for a location by the number of yards in a mile (1760). E.g. Artois: 43 miles x 1760 = 75,680 yards Step 2. Multiply this by the number of rifles per yard. E.g. 75,680 x 3 = 227,040 There were 227,040 German troops carrying rifles at Artois in July 1916.
  • The diagram is less helpful when looking at the other main aim of the British, which was attrition - killing large numbers of German troops and wearing the Germans down. Evidence suggests that there were around 500,000 German casualties at the Somme. However, British and French losses added up to around 620,000.
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