World War One

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Attrition

This is when they try to kill more of the enemy then they are killing of you. The british wanted to kill a lot of Germans. 

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Expectations of the war

In August 1914 people expected the war to be short and very mobile. 

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German Schliefen plan

  • The plan aimed to defeat France in 6 weeks. 
  • Part of the army would go to Alsace while the majority of the army attacked the West. Would be done using roads and railways. 
  • Plan meant Germany would have to fight on two fronts but they thought Russia would be slow to mobilise, but they weren't, Russia attacked within 3 weeks. 
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Why did the German Schliefen plan fail?

- Germans overestimated, plan required army to cover 15+ miles a day, not realistic. 

- Supplies, troops not near railaway supplies, field kitchens couldn't keep up so hunger.

- Poor communication and technology, German high command lost conatct with army, the new modern technology wasnt understood properly, lacked information about what the british were doing. 

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Attrition and stalemate

  • After battle of Marne, both armies tried to get one step ahead of each other so there was a series of battles 
  • Used railways to move reserves
  • Germans tried to get British out of Ypres, this lasted 4 weeks, British kept Ypres but lost 100,000 + men
  • The battles ended in a stalemate, winter came and trenches were dug.
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Trench warfare

There was little freedom to be intellegent and smart with fighting when using trenches. Both sides thought whoever held out the longest would win the war of attrition. 

Old methods were used, inexperienced men.

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Problems with trench warfare

Long time to build and needed huge amounts of labour, barbed wire, timber and sandbags. 

First trenches thatwere built were shallow so collapsed easily. 

Winter 1914-15 both sides built more complex trenches 

Vehicles going to the frontline broke down or got stuck in mud 

Soldiers were dirty, hungry and scared

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Why was military adjustment needed for trenches?

1) Fire trenches 

2) Support trench 

3) Reserve trench 

Army rotated the men around the trenches for 1 or 2 weeks. 

There was constant flow of regiments, mainly done at night so they had time to settle in.Duckboards used as roads as railways were busy with supplies. 

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Trench fighting

  • Enemy trenches were the target, soldiers had to stand on a firestep to shoot and trenches were about 8 feet deep. 
  • There was a lot of waiting around so high command did trench raids to keep them on alert.
  • Soldiers would sneak into enemy trenches and throw grenades or take prisoners. 
  • When soldiers got face to face they used bayonets etc.
  • Rare occasions the soldiers would 'fratenise' eg at christmas they met on no mans land 

 

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Soldier welfare in the trenches

  • eat and sleep in poor conditions 
  • rain and mud 
  • only basic sanitation 
  • rats 
  • lice 
  • trench foot 
  • shell shock 
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Communication in the trenches

Officers in dugouts used telephone landlines but often relied on runners to give messages. 

When attacking, the soldiers communicate using horns or shouting etc 

headquarter commanders used maps and aerials but couldnt track progress so had to plan for every possible outcome. 

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Why were trenches could for the defensive side and

Defending side gets protection from the trenches, don't really have to use their weapons. 

Warfare made static as hard to get through trenches so needed a long time to plan and prepare an attack. 

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New fighting technologies and techniques

  • metal helmets introduced
  • french chnaged to khaki uniform 
  • horses became targets so cavalry would dismount then fight as infantry 
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Rifles and attack strategies

Rifle could fire up to 15 rounds per minute and 800 yards away 

Smokless powder meant enemy couldnt see where snipers were positioned 

French used 'fire and move' tactic 

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Machine guns

They were easy to use, just had to feed ammunition then would spray bullets. 60 rounds per minute. 

Sited in pairs, hidden in dugouts.

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Artillery and creeping barrage

generals thought stalemate could be broken using artillery 
artillery was supposed to destroy trenches, flatten barbed wire and machine guns. 

GUN ACCRURACY; it improved using flash spotting, where planes flew over to feedback info to the gunner. With good accuracy creeping barrage of shells

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British Fuse 106

  • a sensetive device that caused shells to explode sideways rather than going into the mud 
  • effective at destroying barbed wire and creates a 'smoke screen' 
  • now widely avaible until 1917
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Poison gas

  • First used by Germans on W front but some blew back onto them 
  • germans used 6,000 canisters of chlorine gas. Made French retreat but not that effective as some germans didnt have masks 
  • June 1915, first gas masks used by allies. 
  • December 1915, Phosgene gas first used, caused 80% of gas casulaties. 
  • July 1917, mustard gas used caused skin, lung and blindness 
  • 'respirator masks' intoduced, had goggles & filter 
  • Artillery shells to deliver gas were created 
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The tank

  • Had to have them in a big group to be effective 
  • By 1918, nearly 10,000 tanks 
  • Had a huge physcological impact
  • Had artillery guns in them 
  • Meant the Western front became more mobile 
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German exhaustion

  • Germans were exhausted. 
  • 'All arm's attacks' now used, this combined infantry with artillery, tanks, aircrafts and engineers. 
  • Artillery more accurate, radio communications improved and logistics. 
  • 4 october = Germans began to withdraw 
  • 8 October = German issued the armistice 
  • Signed 11 November 1918
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