Hubert Gough, the Anzacs and the Somme: A Descent into Pointlessness


  • Meleah Hampton


The newly-created Reserve Army played a secondary role on the Somme in support of Fourth Army. Its commander, Lieutenant General Sir Hubert Gough, was given the opportunity to conduct limited operations on Fourth Army’s left flank in late July 1916. Using 1st Anzac Corps to capture the French village of Pozières, Gough’s intention was to continue to capture the high ground along Pozières Ridge to his ultimate goal: Thiepval. But his characteristic impetuosity and aggression derailed his plan, leaving 1st Anzac Corps with little direction other than to ‘think out and suggest enterprises’ of its own. Ultimately, his plans were for naught, and 1st Anzac Corps’ 23,000 casualties in 6 weeks of fighting were suffered for no material purpose. Gough’s role in this debacle has been largely overlooked, but is integral in understanding the Battle of Pozières Ridge in 1916.