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Although the timing and the location of the battle owed as much to politics as to strategy (notably, deference to the demands of the French High Command, hard-pressed by the fighting at Verdun), it was in its final planning stage viewed as a breakthrough battle - as a means of getting through the formidable German trenchlines and into a war of movement and decision.

In this it failed and the character of the fighting in the weeks and months following 1 July assumed the nature of 'attritional' or wearing-down warfare, in which, by the offensive's conclusion, both attackers and defenders were almost equally exhausted.

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