Talk:Battle of the Somme

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Expansion and copyedit[edit]

Have reorganised the rest of the page on the lines of Arras (1917) with a view to removing the banner. Would appreciate a copy-edit and comments. ThanksKeith-264 (talk) 12:43, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

Capture of Trônes Wood redone too.Keith-264 (talk) 13:14, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Result[edit]

The battle was not a "Pyrrhic victory" for the Allies; the Germans began their long decline to defeat as a result of the battle, had to make structural changes to the army and its relationship with German society and gamble on expedients like city-bombing and U-boat warfare. Changing from a strategy of victory in 1916 to a strategy of not losing in 1917 is a defeat. look at recent sources.Keith-264 (talk) 09:47, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

Remedied a complaint about names and restored an unwrranted edit.happy to discuss this if desired.Keith-264 (talk) 20:56, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for referencing the last paragraph in the introduction. I'm not an expert on the Somme or WWI so I certainly won't argue the fine detail with you. However as a casual observer, I feel can still object to the second half of this sentence.

This school of thought sets the battle in a context of a general Allied offensive in 1916 and notes that much of the German and French writing on the battle puts it in a continental perspective which is inaccessible to anglophone monoglots.

My primary objection is that it makes no sense because being multi-lingual and having mastery of French or German are not the same thing. It would be more accurate to say, "it is not accessible to non-French and non-German speakers". However the first part of the sentence already establishes that the notes are German or French making such a statement redundant.

My second objection is that some people would view such a phrase as a typical insult directed at somebody from the English world.--84.215.224.190 (talk) 17:42, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for being willing to discuss it; to me your alternative is the same point from the other direction. Anglophone monoglots are English speakers with no other languages and so rely on translations. Much of the French and German writing hasn't been translated so polemicists (of all schools) have had an easy time writing about the British war. Some of that has changed with the work of Jack Sheldon, William Philpott and the Canadians who have translated some of the German official history (only 1915 so far) but the bulk of the material is still beyond us, which is why it's inaccessible.

We can infer what some people might think but I'd rather not second-guess strangers or venture into projection, to me it's a description of a fact.Keith-264 (talk) 18:04, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the reply. I don't think my statement is the same point from the other way around. Both are technically true, but so is the equally absurd statement "Mandarin speaking monoglots can't read Swedish." My alternative was more precise because it does not state that one particular language group does not have access to the writings. Is the important fact here that these works have not been translated, then why not just state that? It is far less ambiguous. --84.215.224.190 (talk) 18:40, 24 August 2013 (UTC)


A rival conclusion by Terraine, Sheffield, Duffy, Chickering, Herwig and Philpott among others, is that there was no strategic alternative for the British in 1916 and that an understandable horror at British losses is insular, given the millions of casualties borne by the French and Russian armies since 1914. This school of thought sets the battle in a context of a general Allied offensive in 1916 and notes that German and French writing on the battle puts it in a continental perspective, which is inaccessible to anglophone monoglots, because much of the writing has yet to be translated. The Battle of the Somme has been called the beginning of modern all-arms warfare, during which Kitchener's Army learned to fight the mass-industrial war, which the continental armies had been engaged in for two years. This view sees the British contribution to the battle as part of a coalition war and part of a process, which took the strategic initiative from the German Army and caused it irreparable damage, leading to its collapse in late 1918.

How about this?Keith-264 (talk) 19:10, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

It still contains the confusing phrase - better to use Plain English. I think the last line in the Analysis does a better job of explaining the problem of untranslated sources and English-speaking bias. Here it reads like a diversion form the primary topic of the article. Introductions to articles should be understandable to a broad readership WP:EXPLAINLEAD and not include side-tracks from the main topic. Also I suggest removing "among others" from the first sentence ("weasel words")

I'd leave among others in because it's hardly weasel when there are already six examples and without it, it implies they're a school rather than a collection, which would be misleading. I think it's also begging the question of what is a continental perspective, which I would defiine as a war of exhaustion.

A different conclusion by Terraine, Sheffield, Duffy, Chickering, Herwig, Sheldon and Philpott among others, is that there was no strategic alternative for the British in 1916 and that an understandable horror at British losses is insular, given the millions of casualties borne by the continental armies since 1914. This view sets the Anglo-French offensive on the Somme in the context of a general Allied offensive and part of a coalition strategy of exhaustion (Ermattungstrategie) which took the initiative from the German Army and caused it irreparable damage, leading to its collapse in late 1918. Duffy, Sheldon and Philpott have written that this view can be found in German and French writing on the battle, which has not been available to English-speakers. The Battle of the Somme has been called the beginning of modern all-arms warfare.

--84.215.224.190 (talk) 19:32, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

I fear I may be reinventing the wheel but how about this?Keith-264 (talk) 20:44, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Much better. I take your point about "among others". — Preceding unsigned comment added by 84.215.224.190 (talk) 20:53, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

On second thoughts (after looking at some of the highly rated WWI articles and reviewing wikepedia guidelines on introductions) the introduction is too long and contains details and academic argument that is uninteresting to the casual reader. I would have edited it already if I didn't think it would be immediately reverted, seeing how I have to post here several times just to remove 2 irrelevant words from the article. --84.215.224.190 (talk) 20:43, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

Which other WWI articles, I'd be interested to have a look at them? As for the "casual reader" let them speak for themselves and make room for the non-casual reader. [[1]] demonstrates that casual readers are only one group to be catered for. The lead is supposed to reflect the main text, which it does and your views of relevance are yours not anyone else's. I've found your contribution to be helpful (hence my attempt to address your concerns) but you tend to express opinion as fact, which seems more a matter of enthusiasm than authority. Would you support the amended paragraph?Keith-264 (talk) 22:01, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

"...but you tend to express opinion as fact, which seems more a matter of enthusiasm than authority" Is in itself just an opinion.

Maybe I paraphrased the wiki guidelines somewhat, assuming you were familiar with them, but use of Plain English and short accessible introductions are both recommended. The phrase "casual reader" is from the technical article guideline.

"The lead is suppose to reflect the main text" is your opinion. This is what Wiki says about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Lead_section#Introductory_text I've highlighted 2 parts that I think (opinion!) are relevant here. The lead is the first part of the article most people read, and many read only the lead. Consideration should be given to creating interest in reading more of the article, but the lead should not "tease" the reader by hinting at content that follows. Instead, the lead should be written in a clear, accessible style with a neutral point of view; it should ideally contain no more than four paragraphs and be carefully sourced as appropriate. Editors should avoid lengthy paragraphs and over-specific descriptions, since greater detail is saved for the body of the article. I will not attempt to make further edits or visit this page again for reasons already mentioned.

--84.215.224.190 (talk) 20:18, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is notable, and summarize the most important points—including any prominent controversies.[2] The emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly reflect its importance to the topic, according to reliable, published sources, and the notability of the article's subject is usually established in the first few sentences. Apart from trivial basic facts, significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article.

I found this quite helpful and would point out that the original lead had two paragraphs but I split them after their length was criticised. I'm disappointed that you don't feel that your opinions are taken seriously, that's not the impression I intended.Keith-264 (talk) 21:33, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Macmillan was a casualty[edit]

There was a short flurry of edits and I had moved a sentence about British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan out of the lede and into the body section about casualties. The cite comes from a recent book and I don't think this was book spam but there might have been a question about undue weight. There aren't any other mentions of individual soldiers in the article and without looking at the book I don't know exactly where in the battle Macmillan was. Chris Troutman (talk) 02:32, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't approve of singling individuals out because to me it smacks of elitism and I don't put VC sections in (but tolerate and properly cite ones I find since other people have different opinions). Parachuting comment about Macmillan into the lead was a mistake and the same edit had been done to other pages and reverted too. I don't like it being in the page but am willing to accept your judgement, since I asked for outsiders to take a look rather than to take sides. Thanks for tsaking the troubleKeith-264 (talk) 07:31, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

German deaths[edit]

The current version says that the Germans has 164,000 deaths during the battle, but G. J Meyer writes (page 467 of a World Undone) that total German deaths on the Western front for 1916 were only 143,000. Seems like a problem, but Meyer doesn't give a death figure for the Somme. Binarybits (talk) 14:05, 15 June 2014 (UTC)

The Reichsarchiv produced this http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=69350 (third post down, from Churchill The World Crisis)Keith-264 (talk) 13:01, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
The Germans lost 2.2 million dead in World War One. In 1916 there were two of the largest battles of the War, the Somme, and Germany's attack at Verdun. I would find it hard to believe that they only had 143,000 deaths (6.5% of the total War dead) on the entire Western Front for the whole of 1916, — Preceding unsigned comment added by 203.161.78.193 (talk) 02:56, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
The French and German army Western Front losses were greatest in 1914 and 1918. Battles of attrition were less costly than open warfare and battles intended to create open warfare, by breaking through opposing defences. Because they were limited in extent and ambition they were much longer longer, dead if you did, dead if you didn't.Keith-264 (talk) 06:22, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
See here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Verdun#Aftermath particularly the last bit of the casualties section for some recent work on casualties in 1916. RegardsKeith-264 (talk) 06:26, 1 July 2014 (UTC)