Why did the Allied victory occur in 1918 and not before?

Topics: World War I, Allies, World War II Pages: 6 (2345 words) Published: December 4, 2013
The First World War, at the time known as the ‘war to end all wars’, owes much of its horror and length to the slow and laborious aspect of the offensive during it, which makes it difficult to understand the precise reason for it finishing in an allied victory in 1918 and not in any of the previous years. Any number of events could have brought about the end of the war or the capitulation of one of the main protagonists, such as the Battle of the Somme, Verdun or even as early as the Battle of the Marne, but none did and in the end it was a very specific conjunction of events that set the scene for the final outcome, which we will study in this essay, focusing on the USA’s late involvement in the war, the Central powers’ loss of momentum after they had thrown their last reserves into the fray, the culmination of the new technologies used and the disgust of war from many of the populations involved, which are all linked to each other. One of the major factors of Germany’s demise and more importantly of when it happened was instigated by Germany itself, which is the USA’s involvement in the war. Indeed, when they decided in February 1917 to give the go-ahead for unrestricted submarine warfare, the tactic of destroying all ships, military or otherwise, going towards the British Isles, it was in full knowledge that it would in all likelihood bring the US into the war, as they had used this as their main term to not get involved earlier after the sinking of the Lusitania, but the German decided it was worth the risk to knock the British out of the war before any decisive action could be taken on the ground. This did not happen and the US did get involved with the additional incentive of the Zimmerman telegram trying to push Mexico into the war. The announcement of the USA’s decision to enter the war on the allied side was made on the 6th April 1917 and it would eventually mean the downfall of the Central Powers. What the American intervention did in Europe was to “set the clock ticking for Hindenburg and Ludendorff, as the Central Powers would have to come up with a way to win in the next 12-15 months” . The allies knew that once the American troops arrived they would be able to use the numerical advantage the freshness of these new soldier to their advantage and the Germans, after several years of fighting without any reinforcements of this scale would struggle to contain them, and in the end that is exactly what happened. The fact that the arrival of the US into the war in 1917 does explain in that way the hurriedness that came into the war and why it finished at such a late date in, but it is curious in that the intervention could have heralded a much earlier victory, as it took almost two years for the end to come, but that can also be explained, as the soldiers did not arrive straight away. As the US did not have a large standing army, only 175.000 at any time, they had to draft and train recruits before they could be set over and this caused a delay. Add to that the delays caused by the news that Mexico was being courted by Germany to keep US out of Europe and the sinking of ships by the unrestricted submarine warfare, albeit a reduced number of them after the putting in place of the convoy system to protect ships, and it took a long time to arrive on the front and the bulk of the force only arrived in the Spring and Summer of 1918, setting a logical time frame to settle in and be able to make a strong impact which would cause General Ludendorff to internally acknowledge the defeat in September and the peace agreement to be signed in November. Another country which contributed to the war ending at that precise moment was Russia’s withdrawal from it in 1917 after they had changed government through a socialist revolution and were on the brink of a crushing defeat from Germany, as it gave Germany the opportunity to move over one million troops to the western front from the east and accelerated events further. The troops...
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