KEY DEBATE: What was Britain's contribution to Allied victory? 

Taken from Hodder Education 'Access To History' The Experience of Warfare in Britain: Crimea, Boer and First World War 1854-1929. 

Chapter 6, pages 184-185

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  • KEY DEBATE: What was Britain's contribution to Allied victory?  (1)
    • The Royal Navy's Role
      • Maintained links with the Empire.
      • Blockade destroyed German economy and Civilian morale.
    • BEF's Role: It's 1918 offensive won the war.
      • 1. British Artillery became an effective force.
        • Had huge destructive power.
        • Neutralised enemy guns & defences so infantry could advance.
        • Progress had been made in the use of the Creeping Barrage and in survey techniques.
      • 2.Sophisticated co-ordination (helped by wireless telegraphy) of various military branches.
        • Artillery
        • Machine Guns
        • Tanks
        • Gas
        • Aircraft
      • 3. Most highly mechanised army world had ever seen.
        • It was reliant on 'a vast force of specialists and technicians closer in spirit to the world of mass production.
      • 4.Tactical lessons were learnt.
        • 1918 offensives didn't aim to capture pre-set objectives.
          • They took place across a wide front   with the centre of attack repeatedly switched from one area to another.
            • This prevented German resistance solidifying.
        • New tactics entailed departure from earlier battle-plans masterminded from GHQ.
          • Army commanders now had to show greater initiative and flexibility.
            • They in turn relied even more on corps and divisional leadership as the war became more mobile and technical.
    • Britain's Economic Role
      • 1918: German army was outgunned by BEF in almost all areas of munition.
      • British Industry delivered the materials that made victory possible.
    • Britain's Technological role
      • 1. Churchill viewed war as 'engineer's war' where Allied technology and ingenuity in weapons design was a decisive factor.
      • 2. Royal Naval Air Service proved to be innovative
        • It's engineers and inventors claim to have originated tanks and aircraft carriers.
          • Tanks were very useful in 1918; they were the most striking evidence of Britain's ability to integrate Science, technology and tactics with greater success than the Germans.
            • HOWEVER: technological inventiveness couldn't guarantee victory by itself.
              • 3. The tank is a case in point; WHILST THEY WERE PUT TO USE AT AMIENS IN AUGUST 1918, the machines frequently broke down and high mortality rates were among their crews.
                • 4. It was only once on September 29th 1918 that Britain utilised more than 100 tanks in the field.
      • 3. The tank is a case in point; WHILST THEY WERE PUT TO USE AT AMIENS IN AUGUST 1918, the machines frequently broke down and high mortality rates were among their crews.
        • 4. It was only once on September 29th 1918 that Britain utilised more than 100 tanks in the field.
    • British Leadership
      • 1. Lloyd George was a magnificent war leader.
        • Minister of Munitions = He ensured Britain began to produce the materials that'd eventually help win the war.
        • Prime Minister = Kept Britain united and committed to victory.
      • 2. Debate continues on effectiveness of Haig's leadership.
        • He undoubtedly made mistakes in 1916-1917, but her arguably learnt from them and helped to bring about victory in 1918.
  • Infantry
    • 2.Sophisticated co-ordination (helped by wireless telegraphy) of various military branches.
      • Artillery
      • Machine Guns
      • Tanks
      • Gas
      • Aircraft

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