Kingston upon Hull War Memorial 1914 - 1918

The story of Hull in World War One

The Western Front

The German invasion in 1914, occupied 90% of Belgium, and 10 French regions. The resulting German-occupied territory included 64% of France's pig iron production, 24% of its steel manufacturing, and 40% of France's total coal mining capapcity. This dealt a serious, but not crippling setback to French industry. 

The 'Western Front' marked the furthest German advances. It was a 400 mile battle line, extending from the North Sea coast at Nieuwpoort, to the Swiss border. Typically, the front line consisted of three individual trench lines about 100 meters apart, protected by belts of barb wire up, to 20 meters deep, and with positions for machine guns. Villages would be converted into fortresses and the cellars of houses fortified. In due course, a second defensive line, similar to the first, was dug three or four miles back, out of artillery range, so that a single attack could not break right through the defences.The German for most part occupied higher ground. Initially, the BEF held 20 miles of this 400 mile front in 1914, and by 1918 controlled over 120 miles of the Western Front. The Western Front was the principal and vital theatre of war, along which millions of men fought and died. Against the German Army fought the allied armies of the British Commonwealth, France, Belgium and later the United States.

The war on the Western Front can be thought of as being in three phases:

1) a two month war of movement in 1914, as Germany attempted to capture France within the first 42 days and the Allies sought to halt it;

2) three and half years of costly siege warfare, as the entrenched lines proved impossible to crack (late 1914 to mid 1918), and finally,

3) a return to mobile warfare, when a series of German offensives, starting on the 21st March 1918, pushed back the British lines, but failed to break through. On the 16th July 1918, the Allies launched a counter offensive. Boosted by newly arrived American reinforcements, the Allies over the next 100 days recaptured all the lost gound.

The Western Front is often remembered for a 'Christmas Truce', and a football match, between opposing sides on Christmas Day 1914. It is estimated that some 30,000 troops, along some parts of the front line, met in 'No Mans' Land, to shake hands and exchange Christmas gifts. It was also an opportunity to bury the dead and spy on each other's defences. There is some evidence that the British started some impromptu football matches, but the Germans mostly looked on, rather than took part. Generals on both sides soon halted this fratenisation, by ordering the shelling of enemy positions. There were no further 'Christmas Truces', on the Western Front, after 1914. More accurately, the Western Front proved a brutal battlefield, with attritional warfare and great slaughter over four years. It left 7.5 million acres of wasteland, polluted by chemical warfare, unexploded shells and unburied dead and thousands of villages and town oblierated.

When people think of World War I, one of the first images that comes to mind is the trench.  Here’s a look into how these major features were constructed, as well as their impact on the war. …

Stalemate and the use of Terror Weapons 1915-17 

It was on the Western Front, that many modern weapons of mass destruction, were used for the first time. 

* On the 22nd April 1915, the Germans first used poisonous gas against French and Canadian troops. They released 168,000 tonnes of chlorine gas, along a 4 mile front, killing 5,000 men and wounding another 5,000. By the end of the war all sides were using poison gas. In fact, some 30 types of poisonous gas were developed throughout the War, and some 119,000 tons of gas were used. In total, 1,200,000 soldiers on both sides were gassed, of which 91,198 died horrible deaths.

* On the 30th July 1915, the Germans first used 'Flame Throwers'. Their flame throwers could fire jets of flame as far as 130 feet (40 m). These were deployed against British trenches at Hooge, where the lines were just 4.5 metres. The surprise attack at 3.15am, proved terrifying to the British. However, although initially pushed back, the line was later stabilised that night by the 8th Rifle Brigade and 7th Bn KRRC. In two days of severe fighting the British lost 31 officers and 751 other ranks.

* On 15th September 1916, Britain launched the first ever tank attack at Flers. While slow, prone to break down and used in limited numbers, tanks initially shocked the German and penetrated heavy defences.

* Tunnelling under the enemy defences was another extensively used weapon on the Western Front. At Messines Ridge, the Allies dug some 8,000 metres of tunnels. On the 7th June 1917, under a 9 mile ridge of villages, the British detonated 19 underground mines simultaneously, killing some 10,000 Germans instantly.

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* The Western Front also saw the first mass use of machine guns, artillery duels and air warfare. The French 75mm cannon, was named by the Germans, as the 'Devil Gun', which could fire 15 shells a minute, accurately on a target, over 4 miles away.

The Germans developed 'Big Bertha', a 48-ton howitzer. It was named after the wife of its designer Gustav Krupp. 

Bob Smethurst rescues World War One photographs from the rubbish dump

It could fire a 2,050-lb shell a distance of 9.3 miles. It took a crew of 200 men six hours or more to assemble. Germany had 13 of these huge guns or “wonder weapons.” An arms race developed betrween all sides to deploy these weapons more destructively. Over a billion shells were fired on the Western front - the equivilent of a tonne of explosives fired for every square meter of land. Killing increased on an industrial scale. The Battle of Verdun saw combined losses of 700,000 men, the Battle of the Somme caused another million casualties and the Passchendaele offensive another 600,000 casualties. Despite successes in Italy, it was the mounting casualties along the Western Front, that forced Germany and its allies to sue for peace. Bob Smethurst rescues World War One photographs from the rubbish dump

 The return to mobile warfare 1918

To break the stalemate on the Western Front, Germany boyed by reinforcements from the Russian front, launched four offensives in 1918. These offensives were codenamed MichaelGeorgetteGneisenau and Blücher-Yorck). While initilly successfull, these Offensives were being steadily undermined by discontent at home. Germany, and Austro-Hungary were facing bankruptcy and famine. Bulgaria, a key German ally wanted peace. Civilians on the axis home front were becoming frustrated, war weary and hungry. They wanted change, peace and democracy. In January 1918, mass strikes in Berlin and elsewhere, called openly for the Kaiser's abdication. These strikes were ruthlessly suppressed by Ludendorff, who arrested 3,000 strikers and sent them to the front. This only served to spread pessimism and revolution to German troops on the battlefield. While the German Offensives since March 1918 had captured vast territory, the land was strategically of little value and had cost Germany 785,000 dead. Advancing Germans were becoming difficult to supply with food and weapons across war torn battlefields. Many German soldiers became tired and desperate, surrendering in vast numbers. Some 386,000 demoralised German troops surrendered on the Western Front in the last three months of the war. Germany could have used its Spring Offensives as an opportunity to sue for a favourable armistice, or retreat to more fortified defences to give its army a rest. However, Germany was effectively controlled by a military dictatorship which insisted on total victory. While the Germans recovered in places and often fought stubbornly , the Allies, strengthened by American troops, and unified under the sole leadership of Marshall Foche, were developing new tactics and new weapons. Over the last 100 days, the Allies, launched a series of counter attacks all across the Western Front. To their own surprise, they pushed the Germans back, very slowly and very bloodily, to the Belgian border. While the Allies were grinding the Germans down through their superior factories, technology, manpower and command, they still lacked the logistical capacity and political will to defeat the Germans on German soil. All sides were by now becoming exhausted and reluctant to waste further lives. The Allies were planning another Offensive in 1919, when an Armistice was called on the 11th November 1918. It was thought at the time that this was just a pause in the war, but it turned out to be the end of the First World War on the Western Front.

THE GERMAN REVOLUTION, 1918-1919The 1914-18 War, had cost nearly 4 million Allied casualties and over 3.5 million German casualties on the Western Front alone. The worn out Central powers sued for peace. The war on the  Western Front, officially ended at 11am, on the 11th November, 1918. The Allies had not so much won the war, but refused to lose. The Germans still held much of their initial territory and marched home in good order, with their weapons. German soldiers were welcomed home as an undefeated army. For many, their war would continue, as German troops were used to keep order and prevent revolution. Crippled by debts, the Allies forced Germany to sign the Treaty of Versailles, on 28 June 1919. It made Germany admit responsiblity for the war and pay for all costs incurred. This humiliation, rekindled Germany's desire for revenge and twenty years later, Germany would overun Europe again in 1939.

Photo: Troops of the German the 150th Regiment (37th Infantry Division) which had fought on the Eastern Front, marching home through Berlin. The placard shows the battles in which they fought.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Front_(World_War_I)

Trench Warfare

Trench Life on the Western Front - Trenches could be infested with rats, lice and frogs!

    

    Living in Dugouts                                                                    RAMC Officer of the 12th EYR bandaging a wounded man-Roclincourt, 9 January 1918.

 THE BRITISH ARMY ON THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918

A soldier of the 12th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment in 'Brandy Trench' near Roclincourt, 9th January 1918. Men of the 12th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment using a perisope in a trench in the Arleux sector, 9 January 1918.

  THE BRITISH ARMY ON THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918

Officers of the 12th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment (92nd Brigade, 31st Division) in their mess dug-out, 30 feet underground. Arleux sector, near Roclincourt, 9 January 1918.   

Major Battles on the Western Front

The Battle of Mons - 23 August 1914

The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the First World War. At Mons, the British Army which numbered 80,000, attempted to hold the line of the Mons–Condé Canal against the advancing German 1st Army. They were outnumbered by the Germans 3:1. Although the British fought well and inflicted disproportionate casualties on the numerically superior Germans, they were eventually forced to retreat. This was due both to the greater strength of the Germans and the sudden retreat of the French Fifth Army, which exposed the British right flank. Though initially planned as a simple tactical withdrawal and executed in good order, the British retreat from Mons lasted for two weeks and covered over 250 miles (400km). The British were closely pursued by the Germans throughout and fought several rearguard actions, including the Battle of Le Cateau on 26 August, the Étreux rearguard action on 27 August and the Action at Néry on 1 September. It took the BEF to the outskirts of Paris before it counter-attacked in concert with the French, at the Battle of the Marne.  Both sides had success at the Battle of Mons: the British had been outnumbered by about 3:1 but managed to withstand the German 1st Army for 48 hours, inflict more casualties on the Germans and then retire in good order. At Mons the British suffered 1,638 Casualties. The Germans lost between 2,500 - 5000 men

 

By 22 September 1914, following the First Battle of the Marne (6–12 September 1914) and the First Battle of the Aisne (12–21 September 1914), the French and German armies began fighting a series of battles side-stepping one another through northern France in an attempt to outflank the other. These outflanking manoeuvres would take them in a north-westerly direction from the Aisne region towards the French coast. This period of fighting became known as “The Race to the Sea”. 

The Battle of Loos - 25 September – 8 October 1915

The Battle of Loos was the biggest British attack of 1915, the first time that the British used poison gas and the first mass engagement of New Army units. The French and British tried to break through the German defences in Artois and Champagne and restore a war of movement. In many places British artillery had failed to cut the German wire in advance of the attack. Advancing over open fields, within range of German machine guns and artillery, British losses were devastating. Twelve attacking battalions suffered 8,000 casualties out of 10,000 men in four hours. The British were able to break through the weaker German defences and capture the town of Loos-en-Gohelle, mainly due to numerical superiority. Supply and communications problems, combined with the late arrival of reserves, meant that the breakthrough could not be exploited. British casualties at Loos were nearly 60,000 about twice as high as German losses. The Loos Memorial commemorates over 20,000 soldiers of Britain and the Commonwealth who fell in the battle and have no known grave.

The Battles for Ypres - 1914-1918

First encounter between the Allies and the German Army east of Ypres, October 1914.

Ypres was one of the few parts of Belgium not ooccupied by the Germans. It bacame a symbol of Belgium resistance. It was also a major strategic position during the First World War because it stood in the way of Germany's planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the north (the Schlieffen Plan). The neutrality of Belgium was guaranteed by Britain; Germany's invasion of Belgium brought the British Empire into the war. The German army surrounded the city on three sides, bombarding it throughout much of the war. To counterattack, British, French, and allied forces made costly advances from the Ypres Salient into the German lines on the surrounding hills. Ypres was one of the sites that hosted an unofficial Christmas Truce in 1914 between German and British soldiers. Men from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India South Africa and other commonwealth countries all fought at Ypres, alongside men from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to preserve Ypres from capture. 

The land surrounding Ypres to the north is flat and canals and rivers link it to the coast. Ypres was the major centre in this part of Flanders. Control of the town gave control of the surrounding countryside and all the major roads converged on the town. To the south of the town the land rises to about 500 feet (the Mesen Ridge) which would give a significant height advantage to whichever side controlled this ridge of high land. 

First Battle of Ypres (19 October to 22 November 1914)Ypres 1914the Allies captured the town from the Germans. The first days of November directly affected the town. Each day Ypres was shelled and civilian casualties were high. This tactic set the scene for what Ypres was to suffer for several more years. By the winter, the Germans had not taken Ypres and heavy rain meant that any movement was impossible as the roads turned to mud. The first battle at Ypres limped to a halt.

Second Battle of Ypres (22 April 1915– 25 May 1915)  

The battle consisted of six engagements:  

 

  • Battle of Gravenstafel: Thursday 22 April – Friday 23 April 1915
  • Battle of St. Julien: Saturday 24 April – 4 May
  • Battle of Frezenberg8–13 May
  • Battle of Bellewaarde24–25 May
  • Battle of Hooge: 30–31 July 1915 (first German use of flamethrowers)
  • Second Attack on Bellewaarde 25 September

Once the weather had settled, the Germans prepared for a new attack. They used deadly chlorine gas against defending French troops. Having never experienced this before, terrified French soldiers fled. The Gas had worked as it had got them to leave their positions. The situation was saved by Canadian troops who used handkerchiefs soaked in urine as gas masks and launched a counter-attack on the Germans. It was successful and the Germans lost the gains they had made. 

Line held by the British Army on 19 October 1914.

Also in April, the French exploded mines under the German position held at Hill 60 – in fact, a mound created from the rubbish  cleared when a railway cutting was made. Whoever controlled Hill 60 had a perfect view of what was going into Ypres and what was leaving. Hence its strategic value. Though successful, the area was reduced to a muddy bog. The British took Hill 60, but were pushed out by another successful poison gas attack by the Germans. The Germans were only pushed out of Hill 60 in 1918.  

To the south of Ypres lies Mesen. The hills around Mesen had been controlled by the Germans since 1914, and to give the Allies a morale boost, the Allied High Command ordered an attack on Mesen Ridge. The Allies had spent time digging tunnels underneath the Ridge which were packed with explosives. On June 7th,1917, nineteen of the mines were detonated. The noise of the explosions was heard in London. Tens thousand Germans were killed instantly. The stunned German troops on the Ridge were easily taken by the Australian and New Zealand troops that attack the Ridge after the explosions.

Third Battle of Ypres (31 July to 6 November 1917, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele)

To the north east of Ypres, plans went less well for the Allies. British and Commonwealth forces were pursuing an ambitious goal: to break through the German lines to reach the Belgian coast and neutralise the U-boats that threatened British supply lines. However, the campaign coincided with the wettest summer for a century, turning the battlefield into a sea of mud. In October 1917 the area was drenched with rain – for a month. Conditions for the troops were appalling. Trench foot was common on both sides.

The last shell fell on Ypres on the 14th of October 1918In the area around Ypres – including Hill 60, Passchendaele, Lys, Sanctuary Wood etc. – over 1,700,000 soldiers on both sides were killed or wounded and an uncounted number of civilians.

The Front Line (purple dashed line) at the end of the Third Battle of Ypres on 10 November 1917.

 The Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres was unveiled on 24 July 1927. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfieldits large Hall of Memory contains names on stone panels of 54,395 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Salient, but whose bodies have never been identified or found. On completion of the memorial, it was discovered to be too small to contain all the names as originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 15 August 1917 was chosen and the names of 34,984 UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing instead. The Menin Gate Memorial does not list the names of the missing of New Zealand and Newfoundland soldiers, who are instead honoured on separate memorials. In the 1920s, British veterans set up the 'Ypres League' and made the city the symbol of all that they believed Britain was fighting for and gave it a holy aura in their minds. Ypres became a pilgrimage destination for Britons to imagine and share the sufferings of their men and gain a spiritual benefit. In the 100th anniversary period more attempts are being made to preserve the First World War heritage in and around Ypres.Passchendaele and the extra height that the area would give the victors started on October 12th. By November 6th, the area had been captured for the Allies at terrible loss, for both sides. If one battle summarises the pain and futility of war it was Passchendaele. It is remembered not only for the rain that fell, the mud that weighed down the living and swallowed the dead, but also for the courage and bravery of the men who fought here. In just three and half months of terrible fighting, some 500,000 men became casualties for about 900 metres of land. More VCs were won on the 31st July 1917, the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele than on any other single day of battle in the First World War, and 61 VCs were awarded during the campaign as a whole. All the territory gained at Paschendaele was lost again in just three days, during the German spring offensive of 1918. 

The Battle of the Somme (1 July and 18 November 1916)Defences of the trenches at Dompierre

To relieve pressure on the French at Verdun, a large-scale Allied offensive was launched on 1 July 1916 against the German Front Line along the Somme River. The British Army attacked north of the river, the French Army attacked south of the river. The battles lasted for a gruelling four months and were carried out in several phases with many thousands of casualties on both sides of the wire. The first day on the Somme (1st July) saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army, which was forced out of its first position by the French Sixth Army, from Foucaucourt-en-Santerresouth of the Somme to Maricourton the north bank and by the Fourth Army from Maricourt to the vicinity of the AlbertBapaume road. The British attack along the front, between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt, fared much worse. While the British fired over a million shells at the German lines a week before the attack, some 35% of munitions were defective and of the wrong type. Many shells failed to explode. They did not cut the german wire or penetrate the deep German bunkers under ground. Recently found German archives also reveal that the Germans had learnt from captured prisoners and listening posts, when, and where the attack would start and in many cases which troops would confront them on the opening day. When the whistles blew at 7.30am on the 1st July 1916, 100,000 British troops emerged from their trenches and walked slowly towards the German line. British troops climbing from their trench on the first day of 'The Big Push' on the Somme

They confidently believed that nothing could have survived the previous week's bombardment. The Germans were prepared and ready for them. They had surveyed and defended the battlefield for the last two years. Their artillery and machine guns covered all the battlefield and were trained to follow moving targets, within range. The British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army; the Territorial Force; and Kitchener's Army, a force of volunteer recruits including many Pals' Battalions, recruited from the same places and occupations. They were probably Britains fittest, brightest and most enthusiastic soldiers, but very inexperienced and tactically naive. Britain's 'Pal' battalions which had two years to train, were decimeated in the first 10 minutes of battle. Many troops failed to even reach their own front line, let alone the Germans and where there were successes, they were obtained at enormous cost. British losses on the first day were the worst in the history of the British army, with 57,470 British casualties,19,240 of whom were killed. 

The Somme battle is notable for the importance of air power and the first use of the tank. At the end of the battle, British and French forces had penetrated 10 km (6 miles) into German-occupied territory, taking more ground than in any of their offensives since the Battle of the Marne in 1914. The Anglo-French armies failed to capture Péronne and halted 5 km (3 miles) from Bapaume, where the German armies maintained their positions over the winter. British attacks in the Ancre valley resumed in January 1917 and forced the Germans into local withdrawals to reserve lines in February, before the scheduled retirement to he Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line) began in March. The Battle of the Somme was one of the costliest battles of World War I. The original Allied estimate of casualties on the Somme, made at the Chantilly Conference on 15 November 1916, was 485,000 British and French casualties and 630,000 German. While Allied casualties were appalling, a school of thought has emerged that the battle seriously drained German resources impeding their chance of final victory. The destruction of German units in battle was made worse by lack of rest. British and French aircraft and long-range guns reached well behind the front-line, where trench-digging and other work meant that troops returned to the line exhausted. 

The Somme Battle: First phase: 1st –17th July 1916

First day on the Somme, 1 July  1916 - Main article: First day on the Somme

 Battle of Albert, 1–13 July 1916 - Main article: Battle of Albert (1916)

Battle of Bazentin Ridge, 14–17 July 1916 - Main article: Battle of Bazentin Ridge

THE BATTLE OF ARRAS  (9 April to 16 May 1917)

First Battleof the Scarpe (9th –14th  April 1917)   Main article: Battle of Vimy Ridge 

Battle of Arras, April 1917.PNG

British troops attacked German defences on high ground, near the French city of Arras on the 9th April 1917. 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 preliminary bombardment of Vimy Ridge started on 20 March; and the bombardment of the rest of the sector on 4 April. Limited to a front of only 24 miles (39 km), the bombardment used 2,689,000 shells, over a million more than had been used on theSomme. The assault was preceded by a hurricane bombardment lasting five minutes, following a relatively quiet night. When the time came, it was snowing heavily; Allied troops advancing across no man's land were hindered by large drifts. It was still dark and visibility on the battlefield was very poor. 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. 

Second Battleof the Scarpe (23th –24th April 1917)

*  Battleof Arleux (28–29 April 1917)

* Third Battle of the Scarpe (3–4 May 1917) See also: Capture of Oppy Wood

* First attack on Bullecourt (10–11 April 1917)

* German attack on Lagnicourt (15 April 1917)

 

* Battle of Bullecourt (3–17 May 1917)

By the standards of the Western front, the gains of the first two days of the Arras battle, were spectacular. A great deal of ground was gained for relatively few casualties and a number of strategically significant points were captured, notably Vimy Ridge. Additionally, the offensive succeeded in drawing German troops away from the French offensive in the Aisne sector. In many respects, the battle might be deemed a victory for the British and their allies, but these gains were offset by high casualties and the ultimate failure of the French offensive at the Aisne. By the end of the offensive, the British had suffered 158,660 casualties and gained little ground since the first day. German losses are more difficult to determine, but at least 79,418 casualties and possibly as many as 130,000.

Siegfried Sassoon makes reference to the battle in the poem The General. The Anglo-Welsh lyric poet Edward Thomas was killed by a shell on 9 April 1917, during the first day of the Easter Offensive. Thomas's war diary gives a vivid and poignant picture of life on the Western front in the months leading up to the battle. The composer Ernest John Moeran was wounded during the attack on Bullecourt on 3 May 1917.

Battle of Cambrai (20th November – 7th December 1917)

cambrai battle map

The Battle of Cambrai, fought in November/December 1917, proved to be a significant event in World War One. Cambrai was the first battle in which tanks were used en masse. In fact, Cambrai saw a mixture of tanks being used, heavy artillery and air power. Mobility, lacking for the previous three years in World War One, suddenly found a place on the battlefield – though it was not to last for the duration of the battle. While the battle of Passchendaele was being fought, Douglas Haig approved a plan to take on the Germans by sweeping round the back of Cambrai and encircling the town. The attack would use a combination of old and new – cavalry, air power, artillery and tanks that would be supported by infantry. Cambrai was an important town as it contained a strategic railhead.  Bundesarchiv Bild 104-0941A, Bei Cambrai, zerstörter englischer Panzer Mark I.jpgThe Cambrai battle started at 06.20 on November 20th 1917. The Germans were surprised by an intense artillery attack directly on the Hindenburg Line. 350 British tanks advanced across the ground supported by infantry – both were assisted by an artillery rolling barrage that gave them cover from a German counter-attack. The bulk of the initial attack went well. The 62nd Division (West Riding) covered more than five miles in this attack from their starting point. Compared to the gains made at battles like the Somme and Verdun, such a distance was astonishing. However, not everything had gone to plan. The 2nd Cavalry Division had a problem crossing the vital St.Quentin Canal when a tank went over its main bridge and broke its back – the same bridge that the cavalry were supposed to use to advance to Cambrai! Elsewhere, British units also got bogged down in their attack. By November 30th, the German were ready to counter-attack and defend Cambrai. Many British army units had got themselves isolated and their command structure broke down in places. The German counter-attack was so effective that on December 3rd, Haig gave the order for the British units still near to Cambrai to withdraw “with the least possible delay from the Bourlon Hill-Macoing salient to a more retired and shorter line.” The failure to build on the initial success of the attack was blamed on middle-ranking commanders – some of whom were sacked. The initial phase of the battle did show that mobility was possible in the war, but that to sustain it, a decent command structure was needed so that impetus gained in one area of the attack was aided by gains elsewhere in the advance. British casualties were over 44,000 men during the battle while the Germans lost about 45,000 men.