Ww1 Syllabus Nootes1

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HSC Modern History

PART 1 – World War One

1. War on the Western Front

The reasons for the stalemate on the Western Front

Faults in the Schlieffen Plan
- The Schlieffen Plan was Germany’s pre-war (1906) strategy in invading France in the event of an outbreak of war – aggressive and needed speed and surprise - Involved heading north into Belgium, then west to attack France’s fortified chateau’s from the rear - Plan to take Paris in 6 weeks to defeat France, then take on Soviet Union – to prevent a two front war - Armies at the centre of the “swing” were fortified, leaving those on the outside weak and slow - Belgium put up stronger resistance

- Failed because: of stronger Belgium resistance, British involvement due to invasion of Belgium, Molke’s changes to the original plans, underestimating Russia’s mobilisation size and speed - Argued that if it worked, stalemate wouldn’t have occurred

Tactical and strategic plans
- Supply restricted to railways where the tracks were laid - Movement by horse was too slow
- Troops exhausted, same tactic of “going over the top” - Inadequate Generals who used Imperial tactics, didn’t adapt to modern-day weaponry (mainly the machine gun) - Stalemate led to development of trench’s – race to the sea to out-flank each other - Problems in communication – often by mouth as phone/cable lines were broken by artillery

The nature of trench warfare and life in the trenches dealing with experiences of Allied and German soldiers

Structure of the trenches
- In parallel lines of 3; front line, support and reserve trench (rotation systems) - Designed in zig-zag formation for defensive measures
- Deep enough for a man to stand without being exposed
- Sandbags lined trenches for protection
- Firesteps, parapet/parados to protect from artillery and bullets - Duckboards to walk on and keep feet dry
- Dugouts: shelters for officers
- Foxholes: shelters for soldiers
- Comfort depended on Commander’s view on the trenches use

Sickness, Disease, Hospitals and Hygiene
- Lack of draining- stand in water for days (led to trench feet and amputations) - Soldiers had no choice but to go to toilet where they were standing - Decomposing bodies lay everywhere, in water holes – brought disease through rats and lice - Poor sanitation led to sickness and infections

- Shell shock – PTSD and caused by overexposure to shelling - Winter was very cold – caused frostbite
- Hard to treat wounded – Regimental Aid Posts, Casualty Clearing Stations and Base Hospitals - Iodine and field dressings, if not serious sent back into battle - Loss of blood led to shock and gangrene

Overview of strategies and tactics to break the stalemate including key battles: Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele

Tactics
- Going “over the top”/ single breakthrough: artillery barrage, masses of infantry pushing forward. Required speed to prevent German defences filling up - Bite and hold: attack through one section of German line and hold against attack. Worked well if enemy was surprised - Leapfrogging: continuous series of bite and hold’s

- Infiltrations: infantry attack soft spot in enemy defence, allowed attacker deep into enemy lines - Bombardments: Periods of time with artillery shelling. Accuracy was a problem often failing to destroy key objectives - Creeping/Rolling Barrage: First used in 1915. Required artillery firing at set distances for periods of time before extending, allowing infantry to creep-up on enemy before defences could get back. Didn’t work as artillery fell onto friendly troops - Attrition: Wearing down opposition until it ran out of men or resources to continue fighting

New Weapons
- Gas: Tried to break deadlock. Fired from canisters then shells causing breathing difficulties. Occasionally effective, never decisive. Caused fear,...
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