"We were surprised to see them walking, we had never seen that before. The officers went in front. I noticed one of them walking calmly, carrying a walking stick. When we started to fire, we just had to load and reload. They went down in their hundreds. We didn't have to aim, we just fired into them." -A German machine gunner
In minutes, Haig's planned "Big Push" blew apart in a torrent of Maxim bullets. Barbed wire entanglements had not been cut by the bombardment as expected. A British mine that had been dug under the German trenches detonated late, killing British troops that had already advanced that far. The methodical pace and four rank attack, deemed necessary by Haig and his staff due to their professional skepticism regarding the soldiering qualities of the new "Kitchener's Army", turned the mud in front of the German positions into an abattoir. The British 8th Division, attacking near Ovillers, started with 300 officers and 8,500 other ranks. After two hours, it had been reduced to 82 officers and only 3,226 enlisted. The slaughter was similar all up and down the front. The only gains were made in sectors where subordinates had ignored the plan, either by having their units lie belly-down in No Man's Land before the attack, or ordering them to charge at a run rather than stroll at trenches that were supposedly devoid of life due to the bombardment.
C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre."