On November 18, 1916, commander of the British Expeditionary Force Douglas Haig ceased the Battle of the Somme in France after almost five months of mass slaughter. The offensive began July 1, 1916. More than 600,000 British and French casualties and more than 650,000 German casualties later, the battle was a deadlock; even with the British introduction of tanks. Heavy rains in October turned the battlefield into a sea of mud.
Haig reported the campaign a success:
“Verdun had been relieved; the main German forces had been held on the Western front; and the enemy’s strength had been very considerably worn down. Any one of these three results is in itself sufficient to justify the Somme battle.”
British Prime Minister David Lloyd George had a different view:
“Over 400,000 of our men fell in this bullheaded fight and the slaughter amongst our young officers was appalling…Had it not been for the inexplicable stupidity of the Germans in provoking a quarrel with America and bringing that mighty people into the war against them just as they had succeeded in eliminating another powerful foe—Russia–the Somme would not have saved us from the inextricable stalemate.”