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Modern History WW1 HSC

By john11v Oct 08, 2014 3582 Words
War on the Western Front
Reasons for the Stalemate:
The failure of the Schlieffen Plan – Russia mobilized faster than expected, forcing Germany to redirect some troops from France. The resistance of Belgium meant that the Germans were unable to pass through. Britain quickly entered the war in support of Belgium and sending the BEF. Germany experienced supply problems and failed to realise that once off the railways, the speed of the army was determined by foot, making the deadline of 42 days unrealistic and inflexible. Their advance was delayed, allowing France to regroup with the BEF to halt German advance. Other reasons – mechanisms of trench warfare. Weapons were more suited for defense e.g. machine gun, artillery and barbed wire. Old tactic were used e.g. cavalry charges. Reconnaissance of enemy positions was poor. Both sides were able to get new supplies through using rail networks and neither side adapted quickly enough to develop new weapons or methods. The huge death toll in the first few months meant both sides needed to regroup. The Nature of Trench Warfare and Life in the Trenches Dealing with Experiences of Allied and German Soldiers: Trenches were initially straight but over time were developed to have a zigzag design. Frontline trenches of the Allies and Germans was separated by vast space of emptiness known as no-man’s land. There were support and reserve trenches as well as communications trenches that linked the three main line of trenches. Over time trench systems became more complex and intricate. Beyond the trenches and towards the enemy there were entanglements of barbed wire to slow down an attack. Internally, trenches were deep enough that a man was not exposed whilst inside. There were duckboards placed on the bottom of them to keep soldiers’ feet out of mud and water. Dug-outs were scraped into the side of a trench that might have contained one or more rooms with boards, beds and lighting. Trenches that were better constructed had a firing step to make shooting easier. Trenches were often protected and strengthened by sandbags. Soldiers suffered from a lot of poor conditions in the trenches. Trench foot, shellshock, waterlogged trenches, lice, rats and dysentery were some of the horrible conditions soldiers had to deal with while living in the trenches. Trench foot was an infection of the feet caused by cold, wet and unsanitary conditions and if it was untreated a soldier’s foot could become infected with gangrene, resulting in their foot being amputated. In the winter of 1914-1915 over 20,000 British soldiers were treated for trench foot. In order to prevent or heal trench foot soldiers had to dry their feet and change their socks several times a day and duckboards were placed at the bottom of trenches as a means to prevent water from soaking their shoes. Shellshock was thought to be caused by the enemy’s heavy artillery. Early symptoms included tiredness, irritability, giddiness, lack of concentration and headaches. When officers had shellshock they were sent home to recover, however when soldiers had shellshock they were viewed as cowards looking for an excuse to get out of fighting. Between 1914-1918 80,000 men suffered from shellshock. As a result of shellshock soldiers committed suicide, refused to obey their officers orders or left. Waterlogged trenches occurred due to most of the area above the trenches being only a few feet above sea level, so when trenches were dug water was found sooner than expected. Also, as trenches were mostly composed of clay they became easily flooded when it rained. Shells from guns and bombs created massive craters in the ground, which meant that when it rained the craters flooded and water poured into the trenches. As a result of waterlogged trenches soldiers had to sleep outside, bullets and guns became useless, equipment became extremely heavy and the food was soaked and became uneatable. Lice were found in the droves, on the floor, in soldiers dug outs and beds and in the seams of their clothes. Soldiers missed out on sleep due to having to kill the lice or being kept awake from them and they had to spend hours on a daily basis delousing their clothes. Soldiers killed lice between their finger nails, however more just seemed to take the dead ones’ places. They also tried to kill them by applying a burning candle to them but this process saw soldiers get badly burnt. Lice carried disease known as trench fever which gave soldiers extreme pains in their shins and high fevers. It stopped soldiers from fighting and accounted for around 15% of all cases of sickness in the British army. Rats were attracted to the trenches due to decomposing bodies that were below the surface of newly dug trenches and the food scraps that littered them. Rats fed on any form of food they could scavenge and decomposing bodies. Rats annoyed soldiers as they chewed holes through clothes, swarmed the dugouts and crawled over soldiers in their sleep. Dysentery was a disease involving the inflammation of the lining of the large intestines. It caused stomach pains, diarrhea and in some cases vomiting and fever. It is caused by food or water, human feaces and contact with infected people. It occurred in the trenches as a result of no proper sanitation existing. Overview of strategies and tactics to break the stalemate including key battles: Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele Machine Gun: When this weapon was implemented in fixed strong points it was a fearsome defensive weapon. It was a useful weapon for preventing attacks but was not very useful when planning an offensive as it was big and heavy and lacked mobility – meaning it could only be fired from one spot. Gas: This was first used by the Germans on the 22nd of April 1915 at the 2nd battle of Ypres. Chlorine was the first type used and was a grey/green cloud which was a powerful irritant. It could inflict damage to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs and when it was highly concentrated and exposed for long enough it could cause death by asphyxiation. The second type of gas was known as phosgene and was more effective than chlorine and hard to detect. It took 24 hours or more to manifest and was extremely deathly. The third type of gas was mustard gas and was the worst form. It was invented in 1917. Once it was in the soil it became active for several days, weeks or months in dependence on the weather. Victims’ skin blistered, their eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. It caused internal and external bleeding and attack the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous from the membrane. Soldiers had to be strapped to their beds in order to deal with the pain and it usually took a person four or five weeks to die of mustard gas exposure. Gas was initially effective because it created holes in the enemy lines, however in the long term it proved to be ineffective because it didn’t kill enough soldiers and wind issues. Tanks: Tanks were first used on the 15th of September 1916 in the battle of the Somme. The first British tanks in 1916 were extremely slow, making them easy targets. Their engines weren’t powerful enough to move through mud and struggled to get across trenches. They were hot and claustrophobic to work in and dangerous if fire broke out in them. Flamethrowers were first used by the Germans in 1915. As the war progressed both sides used them. They had a range of between 25-40 metres and they were effective when used in an advance due to the enemies’ first reaction to panic and run. However, they were heavy and difficult to move quickly and often needed two men to operate one. As it heavily depended on good weather conditions it was not effective in continually breaking enemy lines. The battle of Verdun began on the 21st of February and ended on the 19th of December. General Petain was the general in charge of French forces at Verdun – it became a symbol of French resistance. The German’s adopted a strategy of attrition – they aimed to exhaust the French so they were unable to attack. Falkenhayn was in charge of the Germans and predicted three French soldiers would die for every German. There was only one road into Verdun that was open – this was called the “sacred way”. This meant that French progress was slow as men, food and ammunition could only be transported through this one road. The French poured all of their resources into Verdun. There were more than half a million French casualties and over 400,000 German casualties. 40 million artillery shells were fired. The battle of the Somme began on the 1st of July 1916 and ended in November that year. General Douglas Haig led the British and the British had 2.5 million volunteers. The Battle of the Somme was supposed to alleviate the pressure off of Verdun as it was feared by the French that if pressure was not taken off Verdun then the whole of France would collapse. The British fired over 100 000 shells per day and launched a preparatory bombardment for seven days before they attacked - a total of 1.7 million shells was launched in this time. The bombardment was meant to clear the ground of soldiers so the British went over the top with no weapons. On the first day alone there were 56000 casualties for Britain – 19240 of these were fatal. The battle continued despite evidence that it had no input in breaking the stalemate. Haig only called off his troops due to bad weather and by the end there were 620000 British and French casualties and 450000 German casualties. The battle of Passchendaele occurred in 1917 and was also led by Haig. This battle was synonymous with mud, which made fighting extremely difficult. It was remembered as the most tragic battle of war and advanced only five miles into a swamp. It only lasted three months and ended with 500, 000 casualties for both sides. Changing attitudes of Allied and German soldiers to the war over time Before 1916 there was motivation amongst soldiers to go to war and it was a common view that they would gain respect from society. There was a lot of stigma surrounding pride/patriotism. Soldiers thought the war would be short and quick and over before Christmas. Women put pressure on men to join. There was a good salary and men thought of it as an adventure and there was also good media presentation attached to it. After 1916 soldiers were exhausted and desperate. They were adapting to the conditions and were also desensitized. They cannot see an end to the war and are becoming fearful of death and are becoming extremely weary. The home fronts in Britain and Germany

Total war and its social and economic impact on civilians in Britain and Germany Britain - On the 6th December 1916 David Lloyd George became Prime Minister of Britain. Information from the front was controlled and soldier’s letters were censored. In 1914 the Defense Against the Realm Act gave the government unprecedented powers. It allowed civil rights to be suspended and the government gained an unlimited ability to regulate daily life. A Ministry of Munitions was created and they gained control of industry. The Munitions Act of June 1915 saw the creation of the “Leaving certificate” – this prevented the movement of men and women out of the munitions industry. Police were allowed to arrest without a warrant, railways and dockyards were placed under military control and the use and purchase of binoculars and kites were restricted due to fear of spying. The price of food rose dramatically; between 1914 and 1918 average food prices rose 110% in Britain. Meatless days were imposed and limits were placed upon meals in hotels and restaurants. The government also advertised encouraging the use of open spaces such as tennis courts in order to plant crops. Germany – In August 1914 the War Raw Materials Department was established in response to Germany’s heavy reliance on the importation of raw materials, e.g. copper, rubber and oil. It purchased all supplies of raw materials and then sold them to manufacturers to produce into war goods. The Supreme War Office was set up in 1916 and saw civilian labour, manufacturing and transport all placed under government control. As a result of heavy rain crops were ruined and agriculture never really recovered. Between 1914 and 1918 average food prices rose by 446%. In 1916 a War Food Office was established in order to make decisions about the supply and distribution of goods. Recruitment, censorship and propaganda in Britain and Germany Britain – In January 1916 the first Military Service Bill was introduced. This conscripted childless single men and widowers aged between and 18 and 40. Then in May 1916 the second Military Service Bill was introduced, which made all men between 18 and 40 liable to be conscripted. Propaganda was based on Anti-German hysteria and there were increasing stories surrounding German barbarity – especially after the use of poison gas. Germany - The Patriotic Auxiliary Service Law made all men aged between 17 and 60 liable for labour service. The variety of attitudes to the war and how they changed over time in Britain and Germany Before 1916 there was an atmosphere of patriotism – civilians encouraged soldiers to enlist. Civilians did not see the sacrifice they were making and held a positive attitude. Many were excited as they only saw war as a short-term commitment. Men were seen as cowards if they didn’t enlist and were pressured by women to join the army. Civilians were unaffected by the outbreak of war. After 1916 civilians were becoming more involved in war and contributing more. Civilians began to become angry due to the frequent use of propaganda and lies that the government were persistently using. There was negativity towards the war – civilians were shocked by the reality of war and confronted by the brutality of war images.

The impact of war on women’s lives and experiences in Britain Women took up employment in industries in order to replace men. The government issued an appeal to women to join a Register of Women for War Service in March 1915. In 1914 there were 175,000 women involved in war production. By July 1918 this had increased to over 750,000. However, women faced many inequalities in the workplace. They received less pay than men and women who worked in munitions’ industries were liable to a discolouring of their skin due to the chemicals they worked with. Their workplace was also a target for the enemy. Some groups that women were involved in include the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) and the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF). Turning points

Impacts of the entry of the US and of the Russian withdrawal The US did not want to become heavily involved in war as they wanted to keep and enjoy their independence that they had gained from Britain and they wanted to remain a neutral nation. Britain was anticipating the US entry into the war as they knew that the US was a very important ally to end the war and defeat Germany. The US was drawn into the war for a number of reasons. Firstly, Germany’s strategy of unrestricted submarine warfare drew them in. The Germans began to bomb ships without reason and many civilian lives were lost. However, the US was still not ready to enter the war. However, when the British intercepted a telegram in mid-January between the German foreign minister, Zimmerman and the German minister in Mexico, suggesting Germany and Mexico work together against America, America became outraged. The US declared war on Germany on the 6th of April 1917. However, due to the US not having enough troops they did not in fact enter the war until 1918. Immediate impacts of the US entering the war include few troops seeing action, morale heightened for the Allies and fear felt on the German side as they realized they were up against the largest economy in the world. Long term impacts of the US entering the war include the key role they played in the Allied counter-offensive. The Russians withdrew from the war in 1918 due to massive civilian discontent. The treaty that made this formal was called the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Russian withdrawal provided Germany with an advantage as it allowed them to stop having to fight a war on two fronts and they were able to transfer troops and supplies easier and quicker. The Germans were now able to organize a massive offensive before the Americans could have too much of an influence. The Allies, however were worried and angry and frustrated. Ludendorff’s Spring Offensive and the Allied response

Germany was under pressure due to the threat of the approaching US entry and strains on the home front. In spring of 1918, after the withdrawal of Russia, Ludendorff decided to utilize his opportunity and transfer hundreds and thousands of troops to the Western Front and launch a massive attack on the allied lines. It began on the 21st March 1918 with the German attack known as Operation Michael. A German artillery barrage launched more than 3 million rounds and the British suffered 38000 casualties, including 21,000 prisoners. General Haig met senior commanders on the 26th March at the Doullens Conference where a document was produced that gave French General Foch the authority to coordinate all allied forces. The Germans continued a series of attacks but as a result they had only made tactical gains not strategic ones. Germany had suffered one million casualties and were facing a lack of supplies and men. On the 8th of August the Allies launched a huge counterattack on the Germans. The Germans were taken by surprise, however despite a victory gained by the Allies, British losses were high. They experienced more than 180,000 casualties between the 8th of August and the 26th of September. Allied Victory

Reasons for the Allied victory and German collapse
Allies were able to regroup
The German infantry failed to exploit their advantage
March to July 1918 Germany suffered one million casualties
Germans resources had been exhausted after the offensive
August 8th – Allies launch counter-offensive
Haig launched a series of major assaults
French were hungry for revenge
In three hours the US fired more artillery shells than in the whole of the civil war Germans had no choice but to surrender due to the potential America held to make the war continue infinitely The failure of the offensive meant there was little point in continuing The blockade had caused food shortages and there was enormous strain on Germany’s home front The Germans had fought a war on two fronts for three years

The roles and differing goals of Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Wilson in creating the Treaty of Versailles The treaty of Versailles began on January the 8th to June the 28th 1919. The three main men involved were Woodrow Wilson from the US, David Lloyd George from Britain and Georges Clemenceau from France. France’s economic position was chaos. There was agricultural devastation and two million people were homeless. 1.4 million people had been killed and 0.5 million had been wounded. 23,000 factories had been destroyed as well as railways and roads being destroyed. It terms of security France had been invaded twice by Germany in the preceding 50 years. The rapidly declining birthrate made France vulnerable. French nationalists wanted a detached Rhineland from Germany to serve as a military frontier. Clemenceau had to battle against this in order for other concessions to be won. France also wanted long-term commitment to its security. In Britain David Lloyd George was in the process of fighting a general election and there was masses of rage towards the Germans from the British public. 750,000 soldiers were dead and 1.5 million were wounded. Britain was in a 9 billion pound debt to the US and there was growing social unrest in some areas (strikes e.g. dockworkers). Britain was in conflict with France as Lloyd George saw the benefits in a Germany who could continue to trade with Britain. The US was not having such a rough experience. Only 116 708 deaths had occurred and had lost no land or anything in terms of the economy. They held hope that the loans that had been given to the European nations would be repaid and they had an idealist president who held aims to create greater sovereignty in Europe. Germany ended up having territorial losses of:

Alsace-Lorraine to France
Posen and West-Prussia to Poland
Upper Silesia and the Southern part of East Prussia to Poland Saar Coal Fields for 15 years
Part of Germany given to Czechoslovakia
Germany lost her colonies
Rhineland was demilitarized
Economic losses included:
Germany was blamed for the war and therefore had to pay for it Total = 6.6 billion pounds
Germany lost shipping
Had to pay for the rebuilding of devastated areas
Lost railway stock
Lost Alsace-Lorraine and the Saar – provide coal to France and Belgium for 10 years Had to build ships for Britain and France
Military losses included:
Army reduced to 100,000 men
No war materials to be traded or built
Navy reduced to 6 small cruisers
No air force
Rhineland demilitarized
No forts to be built

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