Trenches and the Race to the Sea

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  • Trenches and the Race to the Sea
    • 1. After the Battle of the Marne German troops dug trenches using machine guns to defend their positions. Their opposition did so too to make sure their enemy could not outflank them.
      • 2. The German army tried to outflank the Allies by advancing west towards the sea, whilst the Allies tried to block them off. There now followed a 'race to the sea' as both sides dashed north in hope of breaking through the enemy. Neither side was able to.
        • In November 1914 there was a fierce battle at Ypres as the Germans tried to smash through the French and British defences. They failed and suffered high numbers of casualties (over 134,000).
          • The failure of the Germans to pierce through the Allied defences meant that the war became a stalemate.
            • Within months a line of heavily fortified trenches stretched 600km from the coast of Belgium to the Alps known as the Western Front.
    • Breakthrough: Pouring huge amounts of troops into an area to break the defence of the opposing side. No breakthrough was made because the enemy defences were too strong.
    • Attrition: Wearing the enemy down so that its supplies of men and equipment are a used up before yours.
      • At Verdun the French lost almost 500,000 casualties but the Germans also lost close to 400,000.


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