Lest we forget

The importance of subject leadership and use of assessment information: The Somme, July 1st 1916

  • 11 Divisions of the British Army Attack along a 25 mile front following 7 day artillery barrage
  • Few gains made with most Units back at their start by the end of the day
  • 60,000 casualties on this day including 20,000 deaths
  • Worst ever tragedy in history of British Army

Lessons learnt by the British Army on The Somme?


  • Rigid plan to be executed come what may
  • Strict timetable to be adhered to
  • Inflexible decision-making;
  • Carried out by unimaginative generals
  • Often a long distance behind the attacking front line
  • (Mis)informed by poor communications


  • Decision-making power granted down the chain of command to meet the needs of each situation as it arose
  • Initial plans provided outline for attacks
  • Outline timetable allowed for flexibility
  • Details ‘filled in’ by those ‘at the front’
  • Flexible, ‘on the spot’ proactive and reactive decisions made – determined by course of events