Famine Essay, Research Paper
The Battles of Ypres, 1914, 1915, 1917 There were in fact three battles fought around the Ypres salient during the War. The first, in 1914 was an attempt by theBEF to halt the rapid advances made by the Germans. The second, in 1915, was notable for the first use of poison gas bythe Germans. However, it is the long-planned offensive of July 31, 1917, that holds the most significance. Here, acombination of over-ambitious aims, appalling weather conditions, and misguided persistence by Haig led to horrificlosses. By the time the offensive was called off total casualties for both sides had been approximately 250,000. Thehorrors of the battle, in which men drowned in liquid mud has become synonymous with the images of the War. One ofthe central objectives, the village of Passchendale (eventually taken on November 6 by the Canadians), lent its name tothe whole conflict. Return to Top of Page Dulce et Decorum Est Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,And towards our distant rest began to trudge.Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hootsOf gas-shells dropping softly behind. Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,But someone still was yelling out and stumblingAnd floundering like a man in fire or lime.-Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams before my helpless sightHe plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;If you could hear, at every jolt, the bloodCome gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,Bitter as the cudOf vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-My friend, you would not tell with such high zestTo children ardent for some desperate glory,The old Lie: Dulce et decorum estPro patria mori. Wilfred Owen Return to Battles of the YpresReturn to Top of Page The Battle of the Somme, 1916 At 0730 hours on the 1st July, 1916, after a week-long artillery bombardment; Haig launched the now infamous “BigPush” attack across the river Somme. With the French Army being hard-pressed to the south at Verdun the Britishintended to breakthrough the German defences in a matter of hours. The mistrust that High Command had of the so-called “New Armies” manifested itself in the orders to the troops to keepuniformed lines and to march towards the enemy across no-man’s land. This, coupled with the failure of the artillerybombardment to dislodge much of the German wire, or to destroy their machine-gun posts, led to one of the biggestslaughters in military history. When the attack began the Germans dragged themselves out of their dugouts, manned their posts and destroyed theoncoming waves of British infantry. After the first day, with a gain of only 1.5km, the British had suffered 57,470 casualties. Despite this, Haig pressed onwith the attack until November 19th of the same year. For the meagre achievements, total losses on the British andImperial side numbered 419,654 with German casualties between 450,000 and 680,000. When the offensive waseventually called off the British were still 3 miles short of Bapaume and Serre, part of their first-day objectives.