Modern History World War 1 Essay

Submitted By LitaEvencort
Words: 3319
Pages: 14

Key Players
Kaiser Wilhem II
Emperor of Germany WW1
German Chief of General Staff August 1914
Count Von Schlieffen
Chief of German General Staff (1891 – 1906)
General Joffre
French commander at Battle of the Marne
General Von Falkenhayn
Succeeded Moltke as German commander
General Ludendorff
German commander from 1916
General Haig
Commander of British forces
Lord Kitchener
British Minister of War until 1916
David Lloyd George
British Prime Minister from 1916
Woodrow Wilson
President of United States during the war
Georges Clemenceau
French Premier at Paris Peace Conference
General Foch
French general; Supreme Allied Commander March 1918
War on the Western Front
Reasons for Stalemate on the Western Front
The Schlieffen Plan – German strategic plan for war against France and Russia simultaneously.
Attack France and Paris (6 weeks)  Turn on Russia
Geography of northwest Europe determined the form of plan
Ideal terrain for quick mobilisation is flat land
NE Belgium and S Netherlands
Invasion of France: Through Belgium and the Netherlands
Push towards French Channel coast, swing round west Paris and capture
“Giant hammer swing”
Capture of French capital and NE industrial areas = French surrender
Treaty of London (1839) – Belgian neutrality
German invasion = War with Britain
‘scrap of paper’
Moltke changed Schlieffen plan:
German troops won’t move through Netherlands
Restricted to a narrow area between Ardennes and Dutch frontier
Weakened hammer swing to strengthen hinge (Defence against French attack)
Difficult for Germans to reach west of Paris
Failure of the Plan
Delays at Aachen and Liege  Time for Belgian and French mobilisation
Time for British troop support in Belgium
Russia mobilised faster than expected
Austria didn’t provide German with support vs Russia
Invasion into Belgium = British entry into war
Belgian troops put fierce resistance
Slowed German advance into France
France mobilised every available man
Battle of the Marne (5 September 1914) – German advance stopped
Commander Joffre counter attacked along river Marne
Saved France from defeat
Germans retreat to River Aisne
German and Allied forces began ‘race to the sea’ towards English Channel
Goal: Secure channel ports and outflanking enemy
Battle of Ypres: Final barrier between Germans and Channel ports
German offensive retreated
Winter approaching  Trench warfare
Plan 17
Strategy centred on recovery of Alsace Lorraine
British wasn’t informed of Plan 17  no cooperation with British possible
Rapid Russian mobilisation
Pressure on German forces
Approached warfare from old fashioned standpoint
Charging troops against deadly gun fire
Franco-Belgian border virtually undefended
Border was Schlieffen Plan target

Nature of Trench Warfare
Trenches housed the men before big offensive that would achieve decisive knockout blow
Overtime became permanent and were strengthened
German trenches eventually used concrete (War of Attrition)
British trenches weren’t as solid (Belief in offensive)
Complex zig zag network of trenches
Aim: Added stability and made a double line of fire against enemy.
Stretched kilometres behind front line trench
Front line trench – where troops positioned for launching attack on enemy
Supported with observation post and machine gun nest
Reserve trenches – reinforcements wait to be called to front line
Structure of the trenches:
Sandbags lined trenches for protection
Fire steps, parapet – protected men from artillery and bullets
Duckboards – Walk on and keep feet dry
Dugouts – Shelter for officers
Foxholes – Shelter for soldiers
Lines of 3: Front line, support and reserve trench
Life in the Trenches
Incessant and all pervasive nature;
Affected their whole existence
Frequent rain and loose dirt from constant artillery bombardment
Muddy quagmires; fatal if one fell in
Sickness and Disease
Common for men to stand in knee deep water for days
Trench foot: painful swelling of feet caused by constant immersion in water
Progress to