War and the transformation of British society c.1903- 1928 Topic 2
Topic 2: The part played by the British on the Western Front
· The BEF and 1914
· Britain’s contribution to the Western Front 1915-17
· The end of the war
The BEF and 1914
On the 3rd August 1914 rivalries between Britain and Germany over trade, colonies and military power resulted in war.
The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was sent to try and stop the invasion of France through Belgium, which was natural. Britain had loyalties with Belgium.
Belgium held up the German forces which surprised everyone.
The BEF was lead by General French.
The BEF had 70,000 men.
The German army had 160,000 men and twice as many artillery guns.
They first encountered each other on 22nd August 1914.
The BEF’s effective use of Lee Enfield rifle’s seemed like machine guns and held up the German advance.
The Schlieffen Plan
The German Invasion followed a plan laid out by General Alfred Von Schlieffen. This was known as the Schlieffen plan.
The Invasion intended to go through unprotected Belgium but progress through the country was slow.
The Germans changed their plan and attempted to attack the French troops marching back to protect Paris.
In the Battle of the Marne (5-11 September 1914) over 1 million German soldiers fought the BEF and the French troops.
The German army eventually retreated 60 km. The Schlieffen plan had failed.
After the Battle of Marne the German army built trenches to protect themselves. The French and British Army did the same.
Both sides extended the trenches sideways, creating the race to the sea.