First World War - 1915


The German Empire

  • German Empire in 1914 - Scattered across the globe - Isolated - Troops (Garisons) are very small 
  • Once they start there is no prospect of the Garisons being reinforced because Brittianna rules the waves 
  • Why do the British and the French bother to go and capture these packages of the German Empire?
    • Military Logic to it - These locations have some military significance - Facilities such as a wireless station, could have a port - A number of them joined to bits of the British Empire - Could be used as a base for German forces to attack the British or French Empire - Better investment - Send forces to capture these German outposts rather than having to maintain forces in the long terms in order to protect their own territorys 
    • Underlying imperialist impulse to capture more territories - Although Germany comes late to the Empire game and doesnt have the most desireable locations - There are some territories (German East Africa) that the British Empire is particularly keen on getting ahold of - Part of the wider Empire product 
  • Capture of Territories:
    • Togoland - August 1914
    • Cameroon - September 1914
    • SW Africa - July 1915
  • Pretty much everything goes to plan, the German territories are being swept up 
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German - East West Africa

  • Germans are able to maintain a resistance against the British, French and Belgians 
  • From November 1914 all the way though to November 1918 - Von Lettow-Vorbeck (German Commander) takes to the countryside and conducts a very successful Gorilla campaign over a four year period - He has a force that is never greater than 10,000 men, but he is able to tie down over 100,000 allied troops - Also reliant on the resources that he has 
  • There is an attempt to get a Zepplin through to resupply him but it doesn't actually reach German East Africa 
  • This is a very low tech campaign - Old fashioned in that regard - Campaign where the Logistics are being carried on mulles - Both sides are suffering large scales of casulties from Malaria - Large numbers of local people are escentailly being conscripted to carry stores - Long running and challenging campaign for both sides 
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Italian Front

  • Italians - Persuaded to join the war on the Allies side in May 1915 - Then execute a war plan to go and attack Austria-Hungary - In order to do that, you have to fight uphill into the Alps - Comes across in many ways as a 'dull theatre' - Neither side covers themselve in glory 
  • Along the river Isonzo - Italian high command launches eleven consecutive offensives - Placing a lot of pressure on the Austro-Hungarians - In the process, 100,000 Italians are killed - The Italian high command continue doing the same thing over and over again 
  • Austro-Hungarians are stood on the Defensive - Effectively on the high ground - They do try some offensives of there own - But it runs into nothing 
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Why Does it Matter? - The Italian Front

  • Interdepence on other theatres - If we take it from the Austro-Hungarian point of view - The Italian Front really matters - In the Pre War period, they have persieved the Italians to be their most dangerous enemy - They have put a lot of investment in being able to fight against the Italians 
  • What we can see with the benefit of hindsight - There are many moments during the First World War where the Austro-Hungarians prioritise the Italian front, when they ought to be prioritising other fronts - Strategic blind spot - They are somewhat obsessed with the Italian front
  • Its the same on the other side, the Italians are continually requesting assistance from their allies on the basis that only a little extra investment - They'll be able to break through and defeat the Austro-Hungarians
  • Not so much what is happening, but how it has a ripple effect to other areas 
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Baltic Campaign

  • There was no Allied-Baltic Campaign in the First World War 
  • Sideshow that never happens 
  • In the years before 1914, the Royal Navy - Particularly under Admiral Fisher - Have grand plans about you are going to conduct amphibious operations against the Germans on the North Sea or Attacking the Northern Coast - Founders on practicalities 
  • The British Army want nothing to do with it - They have thrown all their forces into supporting the French in the Western Front
  • Navy investigates this and finds that amphibious operations are impractical against the Germans as you need specialist vessels which take time to percure - Also the Naval developments in the late 19th Century - Development of Submerines, Mines and modern coastal artillery - Means that amphibious operations are incredibly difficult - Advantage lies with the Defender
  • In the cold light of day, prior to 1915, the British look at this and find that it is not a good idea - However, in another context the British have a rush of blood to the head and try and conduct an amphibious operation 
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The Ottoman Empire

  • In the Middle East
  • The Ottoman Empire joined the war on the side of the Central Powers at the end of October 1914 - Culmination of the Germans 'wooing' the Ottoman Empire - The German Government had main sustained investments and sustained assistance to the Ottoman Government in the period before 1914 - Example: The Ottoman Army had German Advisors at nearly every level, German banks are underpinning investments in the Ottoman Railways 
  • Small German Vessels - Goeben and Breslau - Were in the Mediterranean when War broke out - Commanders of these vessels realise they are going to be unable to make it back to Germany - Head to neutral Constantinople - Dodge the French and British ships to get to Constantinople 
  • At this point, the Germans have nothing to lose - Can't get these vessels back to Germany - Gift them to the Ottoman Empire - Transfer the Crews - Become members of the Ottoman Navey - Part of the German's trying to get the Ottomans to join the war - This gives the Ottomans control over the Black Sea - These two high tech German vessels outclass anything the Russian's have 
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The Ottoman Empire - Part Two

  • Autumn of 1914 - Position of the Central Powers - Seems to be going okay - Prevailing in the conflict - German Army camped out deep into France - Nationalist Young Turk Government of the Ottoman Empire - Lead by Enver Pasha - Oppitunity to take advantage of the situation at the expense of the Russians and the British - If the Russians and British are focused on fighting the Germans, they will be more vunderable to the Ottomans grabbing territories
  • Ottoman Empire - In tricky position at the End of 1914 - Looking for chances to improve there situations - Pretty much lost all their European terriroty in the Bulkan Wars - Blessing in a way as you don't have to send troops into the Bulkans to protect the territories 
  • Fighting against Britian - Problematic - Can't send troops by ships into the Mediterranian - But they do now have control over the Black Sea - Also have custody of Islams holyiest sites - Mecca and Medina - In theory this should allow the Ottomans to assert their relgious authority and encourage their religiousests to fight against the French and British Empire - Reality is that the Ottoman Empire has a weak grip on the Arab terriroties - Prior to the First World War, the territories are becoming ungovernable - Excellerated during the First World War 
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The Ottoman Empire - Part Three

  • Infanstrucuture the Ottomans are trying to make war with - Number of significant challenges 
    • Can no longer put troops on ships to Constantinople and sail them anywhere as the Royal Navy will stop you from going that - Have to fall back on your railway network - Their railway network is pretty primative - There are grand plans for the Berlin to Bagdad railway - Large chunks of it within Messipertanea have not yet been built - In the Taurus Mountains (Turkey), has gaps so you have to take stuff to one end of the railway loaded onto wagons and take it to the other bit of the railway - The railway to Austro-Hungary and Germany runs through Serbia and they are on the Allied side
  • Four directions the army are being pulled in - This is a difficulty for the Ottomans throughtout the War - In Palestine and Mesapitania - End of the Supply line - The Ottoman Army have been battered around a bit - Lots of combat experience - Army starts the war pretty tired - There are some good elements - Mainly Turkish Elements - Using them primarily to defend Constantinople - Fear the British and the French doing what they later do and take Constantinople 
  • Have a fairly strong Nationalist Vision - Young Turk Government - Looking to consolidate powers in the heartlands of Turkey - Bad news for the Christian Minorities 
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Ottoman Attack on Suez Canal (1st to the 3rd of 19

  • Contact an attack against the British Empire 
  • Overcome significant logistic challenges in order to launch a force through the Cyanide Desert and attack the Suez Canal - Attack is a failure - Driven off by troops in India - Reality is different to the Propoganda image produced - Ottomans hit first against the Suex Canal - Failure 
  • Sets the scene - British Empire strikes back 
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Gallipoli Campaign

  • Took place in the Gallipoli Peninsula - 17th February 1915 to 9th January 1916
  • Britain, France and Russia sought to weaken the Ottoman Empire by taking control of the Turkish straits - This would expose the Ottoman capital at Constantinople to bombardment by Allied battleships and cut it off from the Asian part of the Empire
  • With Turkey defeated, the Suez canal would be safe, and a year-round Allied supply route could be opened through the Black Sea to warm water ports in Russia 
  • The Allies believed that if the Ottomans had a push they would back down
  • Allied fleet's attempt to force the Dardanelles in February 1915 failed and was followed by an amphibious landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in April 1915 - Ottoman Government is a hard nosed bunch and have recent military experience - Prepared to fight and have good units - Basic underlying problem - If they can get their navy into the sea of Monbarbra - What do you do if they don't surrender - Do you destroy the great cultural sites when you are condeming the Germans for doing that
  • In January 1916, after eight months' fighting, with approximately 250,000 casualties on each side, the land campaign was abandoned and the invasion force withdrawn 
  • Costly defeat for the Allied powers and for the sponsors - Considered to be a great Ottoman Victory - In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the history of the state, and final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire retreated 
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Allied Attacks on Dardanelles

  • 18th March 1915 - Six English and Four French Battleships headed toweards the stait
  • The Turks were aware that an allied naval attack on the strait was a strong possibility, and with German help, had greatly improved their defenses in the regiom 
  • Though the Allies had bombarded and destroyed the Turkish forts near the entrance to the Dardanelles in the days leading up to the attack, the water was heavily mined, forcing the Allied navy to sweep the area before its fleet could set forth - However, the minesweepers did not manage to clear the area completely 
    • Three of the Alleid batttleships (Britian's Irresistible and Ocean, and France's Bouvet) - Sunk - Two more were badly damaged 
  • With half the fleet out of commision, the remaing ships were pulled back - Churchill argued for the attack to be renewed the next day - Claiming that the turks were running low on munitions - This turned out to be right - The Allied war command opted to delay the naval attack at the Dardanelles and combine with a ground invasion of the Gallipoli Penisula, which bordered the northern side of the strait
  • French and British Navey withdraw - Lack of coordernation 
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Allied landing on Gallipoli

  • 25th April 1915
  • General Sir Ian Hamilton decided to make two landing, placing the British 29th Division at Cape Helles and the Australian and New Zealand Army Corpes (ANZAC) north of Faba Tepe in an area later dubbed Anzac Cove - Both landings were quickly contained by determined Ottoman Troops, and neither the British nor the Anzacs were able to advance 
  • Trench warfare quickly took hold at Gallipoli, mirroring the fighing of the Western Front - Anzac Cove - Particularly intensive - Casualties in both locations mounted heavily - Summer heat conditions rapidly deteriorated - Sickness was rampant - Food quickly became inedible and there was vast swarms of black corpse flies 
  • In August a new assault was launched north of Anzac Cove against the hills around Chunuk Bair - Attack along with a fresh landing at Sulva Bay, quickly failed and statemate returned - December - Decided to evacuate - First Anzac and Suvla - Followed by Helles in January 1916
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  • From Spring of 1915 to Winter of 1915/16 - British find themselves bogged down in Gallipoli - Other attacks are taking place against the Ottoman Empire 
  • Core of this - OIL
    • Back in 1912 - Churchill - Political head of the Royal Navy - Made decision that all British Navy ships would be powered by oil over coal - Creates challenge - If your battle ships are powered by Coal - You own the coal fields so that is fine (South Wales) - But if you switch to oil, you need to secure an oil source 
    • Oil Pipeline runs through Pershia - Where Britian is getting its oil 
    • That oil supply - Vuneral to the Ottomans taking it 
  • When the Ottomans join the war, the British have a plan to send troops from India and land them in the ports of Banzia, secure the area - By securing this you secure the protection of the oilfields 
  • However, because this operation goes really well - They decide to push on and up the river system - When they encounter Ottoman resistance, it melts away in front of them - Keep pushing on into Mesopotamia and keep winning battles - Right up the river system - Almost on the outskirts of Baghdad - Ottoman Empire send their reinfrocement - Find themselves exhausted (British) - Fighting withdraw - Get as far as the town Kat-al-Amara - Find themselves sorrounded - Seigh - Ends in surrender of Allies to Ottoman - 1916 - Huge humiliation politically - Fear that this will cause problems in Eygpt 
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Invasion of Serbia

  • October/November 1915
  • Creation of the Salonika Front 
  • 1914 - Austro-Hungarians unable to defeat Serbs on their own 
  • Austro-Hungarians seek assistance from Germans - Germans persuade the Bulgarians to join the Central Powers - The Bulgarians have a grudge against the Serbs 
  • October 1915
    • Germans shift forces down towards Austro-Hungary 
    • German led invasion - Bulgarians also attacking from the East 
    • Serbian army - Unable to fight on multipul fronts - Quickly overrun 
    • Serbain army - Fighting withdrawal over the mountains - Picked up by the Allied naveys
  • Humiliating to the Allies
  • Serbian allies have gone under against overwhelming force
  • British and French - Land forces at the greek fort of Salonika
    • Take improvised force - Northwards to assist Serbs 
    • Difficult to assist them geographically
    • Angered the Greeks as they were neutral up to this point and you have now brought them into the war 
    • Ends up - Stalemate 
  • Solonkia - Running polictical problem 
    • British want to withdraw and the French do not 
  • Serbian front - Lose for Allies 
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Western Front - 1915

  • Key thing - Germany is outnumbered on the Western Front - By the French 
  • Divisions on Western Front:
    • Germany - 94
    • France - 107
    • Britian - 10 rising to 37 
  • British - Contribution rising to the Western Front 
  • Series of Battles - By the French with British Aid
    • January - 1st Champagne
    • March - Neuve Chapelle
    • May - 2nd Artois 
    • September - 2nd Champagne, 3rd Artois, Loos
  • German - One attack of their own - April - Large scale use of Poison gas
    • 2nd Artois
  • Allies trying to push Germans back - If you can break through in the south and north - Force Germans to withdraw to the Beligum border - Don't make any headway 
  • As in 1914 - French are carrying burden of the war
  • 1915 - French sustain 1.3 million causalities - 0.3 million British causalities 
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Eastern Front - 1915

  • The Russians - Highwater mark - Late Spring 
  • May - Germans go on the attack - Germans defeating the Russians and pushing them back 
  • Timeline:
    • March - Russians take Prezemysl
    • May - Gorlice-Tarnow offensive 
    • August - Germans take Warsaw
    • September - Germans take Vilna 
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