Modern History WWI Essay

Submitted By mrman500
Words: 2658
Pages: 11

Modern Study Notes
– the reasons for the stalemate on the Western Front
The Schlieffen Plan
Belief Russia would be long to mobilise
Made by Count von Schlieffen, put into effect by Moltke
Original idea to create the hammer swing that went through Belgium and the Netherlands and a hinge on the German-French border.
Moltke modified this-
Weakened hammer swing and added to the hinge
Change the direction to avoid the Netherlands as to respect the neutrality
The delays gave the French and Belgians time to mobilise and the British time to get into Belgium.
Decisive Blow Not Achieved
Germany faced a prolonged war on two fronts.
Still held land in Eastern France and Belgium
Battle of the Marne
At this battle, the war of movement ended
The Germans retreated from the Marne to the Aisne
Both sides dug in to defend their positions
“The start of trench warfare”- difficult to win
Race to the sea
These outflanking moves, the last chance both sides had at continuing a rapid advance
Each attacking movement was met with a defensive force that held the advantage
Resulted in an extended trench system
System too hard to go around and too hard to break
The race to the sea ended with the October-November 1914 First Battle of Ypres
Traditional expectations of battle
All battle plans focused on a knockout blow
Outdated idea that the attackers held the advantage in war
Generals took years to realise this was wrong
Trenches and defences were strengthened over time as attacks based on these principles continued for the most of the war
New Weaponry
The new weapons gave the advantage to the defender
Weapons were being made to operate quicker, accurately and effectively
Helped slow the Schlieffen Plan and stop the war of movement
E.g. the rifle, the machine gun, artillery, grenades, mortars, aircraft, gas and the tank

– the nature of trench warfare and life in the trenches dealing with experiences of Allied and German soldiers
The Nature of Trench Warfare
German vs British Trenches
German trenches eventually used concrete and were built up to a depth of 12 metres
Britain maintained their belief in an offensive war
British- “If men were to break through German lines, what is the point in building long lasting trenches
Trenches become complex
Compartments created for ammo and supplies
Dugouts for men to sleep
German trenches have rooms off main trench
Some German positions later in the war had electricity and wallpaper
More complex the further back they got
Trench Network structure
Front line trenches- where troops positioned themselves for attacks
Reserve trenches- where reinforcements waited to be called to the frontline
Communications trenches- Connecting trenches
Some systems were even given street names
No Mans Land
Sometimes 50 metres wide and 8-10 km wide
Going ‘over the top’- a nightmare for soldiers
Easy target for machine guns
Full of deep craters
Combination of mud, heavy rain and artillery made it difficult to walk through
Hazards of no mans land
Small groups asked to raid enemy trenches faced risk of sniper fire
Or running into enemy soldiers doing the same
Fear of being left wounded or left in barbed wire to die
Life in the trenches
Time spent at the front was spent writing letters, restoring trenches, digging toilets and undergoing rifle inspections.
Life in the trenches was horrible
Heavy rain from autumn to spring, filled trenches with water
Faced threat of trench foot.
In winter soldiers were exposed to frostbite
Summer brought fleas, lice and flies
Trenches full of rats
Life in a British trench
The construction of trenches reflected they would only be temporarily needed.
Trenches were lined with duckboards to alleviate flooding
Consisted of a frontline trench, a reserve trench, a support trench and a command trench.
Trenches were linked with communications trenches
Supplies and ammunition was stored in holes cut into the walls
In planning, the soldiers were to