Edexcel AS level History - World War One

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World War One: 1914-1918

What were the conditions like on the Western Front?

Stalemate Inevitability

Out break of war-

-          Thought to be over by Christmas. No long term plans

-          Not prepared or experienced with new weapons

-          Determination of victory

-          Outnumbered by Allies- 100,000 BEF and 750,000 reserves, 2 million French.

Success at battle of Mons, 23rd August 1914

-          2 British divisions held of 6 German ones

-          3x as many casualties on Germans

-          However British forced to retreat, Germans used howitzers

Kluck’s men covered 500km a month

Railways sabotaged in Belgium (Only 400 of 2500 miles operational)


-          Problems with communications

-          Lack of centralised control

-          Technology susceptible to ally interception

-          Best equipped in machine guns

-          Advantage in artillery

-          1.7 million

French used telegraph system

Battle of the Marne

-          Germans affectively winning but lack of communication between generals

-          Germans would retreat if BEF crossed the Marne – 9th September

-          Germans retreated to higher ground

-          Greater threat to Paris

Battle of Ypres ‘massacre of the innocents’

Battle of the Somme: 1st July – 19 November 1916

General Haig: British advance at Flanders (on a hill, argh!)

French getting slaughtered

Somme was where BEF met the French


-          420,000 British casualties (20,000 died and 60,000 injured on first day)

-          French: 194,000

-          Germans: 500,000

-          30million shells fired

-          Wanted to keep French in the war

PLAN –‘bite and hold operation’. Inflexible. Morland failed to change battle plan.

Many shells were duds, poor accuracy

Did not use gas

On the 1st July most of the German line was still intact

Massacre of the British – couldn’t be hidden from the public

By end of July – 80,000 Germans captured, wounded or dead

Outcome –

-          Learnt tactical lessons

-          Artillery became more adept with creeping barrages

-          Counter-battery fire

-          Tanks used for the first time

-          Did not relive the strained French forces

-          Prevented Germans from being able to send reinforcement to the Eastern Front to fight the Russians

-          Damaged German moral


3rd Battle of Ypres: Passchendale

7th June, second major attack of 1917

British detonated 21 mines 60 feet bellow surface of German positions

-          Cleared opposing forces of high ground

-          Warned Germans of larger offensive

-          Germans strengthened their defences

Problems at Ypres

-          British had to transport heavy guns

-          Needed time to win artillery superiority

-          Decision by General Haig to change responsibility of the offensive to Hubert Gough

Initial success

-          100,000 gained around 18 miles with the loss of 27,000

-          Only 3.5 miles gained on the Somme

-          48 tanks

-          Still unable to overwhelm Germans

German advantage


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