World War 1

Differences in WW1 to earlier wars
• 20th century technology - huge advances in weaponry that rendered earlier ones obsolete e.g. cavalry, introduction of machine guns • Military officials were used to old style of warfare, lacked flexibility • No knockout blow – caused a stalemate
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Differences in WW1 to earlier wars 2
• Defensive tactics became superior to offensive causing trench warfare • Protracted warfare – reliance on constant supplies • Total war – industrial production and civilian morale • War of attrition; gradually wearing down the opposition to a point
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How many countries involved in ww1
• First war on a scale this large (32 countries) – able to dislocate international economy
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Reactions to the outbreak of war •
• Enthusiasm, excitement, sense of adventure • Hurry to enlist for fear of missing out • The attraction of a soldier as a well-paying job and chance to travel (Allies) Conscription in Russia and Germany
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The Schlieffen Plan
• Developed in 1905 • Based on pre-war European diplomacy, geography of Western Europe, railway communications and thinking of pre-war military leaders • Aim to avoid a war on two fronts simultaneously
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The Schliefen Plan 2
• Development of plan came from the possibility of German encirclement by the Allied forces • Relied on Russia’s slow mobilisation • Relied on massive movement of troops through flat terrain (Belgium and Netherlands) •
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The Schliefen Plan 3
• Pass through Belgium encircle and knockout France and then defeat Russia (believed to be the more difficult enemy) • Fateful decision to proceed through Belgium which brings Britain into the war • Knockout blow against France first
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The Schliefen Plan 4
• 6 German armies utilising the concentration of power • Aim to reach the French channel coast and encircle Paris (giant hammer swing, hinge) • Schlieffen believed that the German advance would be so rapid that objectives would be achieved before Fra
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The Schliefen Plan modification
• Moltke took over in 1906 • Decision to not move through the Netherlands so that trade between Germany and Netherlands could continue during war • Weakened the hammer swing to strengthen the hinge – more difficult for the Germans to reach Paris
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Too much reliance on speed of movement and railways • The delays that occurred at Aachen and Liege allowed the Belgians and the French to mobilise and for the British to mobilise in Belgium • Did not expect the Russians to attack in under 8 week
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Modifications to the Schlieffan plan proved fatal • Moltke diverted more troops away from the hammer swing to the hinge and sent troops to Antwerp – further weakening the thrust through Belgium • Belgian resistance was heavier than expected
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6. Germany failed to knockout France and now faced a prolonged war • 3. The invasion of Belgium lead to the involvement of the British forces fought the Germans at Mons (Western Belgium, 23rd August) – Germans were defeated however advance was slowed
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Battle of the Marne
• 15 September • German advanced halted and Paris saved "miracle on the Marne"
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The race to the Sea
• September/November both sides attempted a series of outflanking movements • Aim to get around the back of the enemy’s forces and to gain control of channel ports • Trenches dug as each outflanking action failed – eventually line of trenches develop
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Tactical and strategic issues
Movement by rail - rapid Beyond rail lines, troop movement depended on horse or foot Nature of the modern battlefield made attack more likely to fail than originally believed Generals not prepared for a new type of warfare and were slow to adapt
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Nature of trench warfare
• Filth and degradation • Purpose to house men before knock-out blow was achieved • Stalemate caused permanency of trenches
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German trenches
− Rooms − Electricity and wallpaper in some officer trenches − Concrete − 12m deep
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Types of trenches
− Front line trench = where attack was launched. Supported with observation posts and machine gun nests − Reserve trenches = where reinforcements would wait to join the front line − Communication trenches = connected first aid posts and supply depots
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No-man’s land
• No man’s land could be anything between 50m to 10km wide • Going into no man’s land made you an easy target • Quagmire land – deep craters, artillery bombardment, mud and rain − Battle of Passchendaele fought under these conditions
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• Steps of launching an attack:
1. Stockpile resources 2. Artillery bombardment 3. Beginning an attack ‘over the top’
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British attitude to attack
• British move in straight line/wave formation − ‘Taking cover’ was discouraged – seen as cowardly → Attitude to the men in the battle Marc Ferro The Great War – ‘fed into the mincing machine’, ‘cannon fodder’
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Machine gun
• Key weapon, excellent defensive • Range between 500 and 1000m • Cone of fire = varying trajectory if machine gun burst (single weapon could wipe out hundreds of advancing troops)
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Types of guns
• German gun Maxim, British gun Vickers − 450 rounds per minute • Machine gun heavy – hard to move • Later lighter versions were introduced e.g. British Lewis light machine gun
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• (German) Big Bertha 420mm Howitzer range and destructive power enormous, limited effectiveness due to heavy weight • Increased in sophistication as war progressed − Creeping barrages – screen of cover to troops advancing forward
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Other weapons
• Grenades – portable • 1915 Germans introduced flamethrower – limited effectiveness in short range and duration • Mortars (small bombs launched from metal tubes) – high trajectory, limited range, limited attacks on close rival trenches
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• Useful for reconnaissance/surveillance of enemy positions – accurate trench view • 1916 aerial ‘dogfights’ common − German Richthofen Circus lead by Manfred von Richthofen allegedly shot down more than 80 Allied aircraft
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• Most fearful weapon introduced • Gas canisters fired and exploded on impact • Aim to clear trenches • Not reliable because of changes in wind direction
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• Turned the tide of war in 1918 • Took several years for the tank to achieve its potential – slowly developed • General Douglas Haig had great doubts about it’s capability • Lord Kitchener described it as a pretty mechanical toy
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Types of tanks
• First tank (British mark 1) appeared early 1916 − Ineffective for 2 years − Too slow, 6km/h made the easy targets − Broke down frequently, not strig enough to go through mud
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Effectiveness of tanks example
− Cambrai 20 November 1917 mass Allied tank attack (led by Brigadier General Elles) broke through German lines and created 4km gap. Almost 400 Mark IV tanks – however lack of supporting infantry – effectiveness of Mark V tanks in 1918
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Verdun 1
• German offensive • Falkenhayn’s strategy to wear down the French to point of exhaustion "bleed the French White" Falkenhayn
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Verdun 2
• im not to defeat but to annihilate France • 10 million shells on both sides • Germans fired 1 million shells in one day • Germany failed to take Verdun
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Verdun casualties
• 500 000 French 400 000 German casualties
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Somme 1
• BRITISH offensive • Both sides concentrating on battles on other fronts causing relative quiet on the front • Germans used time wisely to prepare – contributed to less overall German casualties (ground surveyed to give precise range)
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Somme 2
• Was a principle of German warfare to retake any lost ground immediately – quick counter attacks
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Somme 3
• British 60 000 casualties first day, 20 000 dead • British never reached the German wire • Haig considered it a victory because his original aims were fulfilled even though the battle was so disastrous
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The Passchendaele Campaign (3rd Battle of Ypres) 31 July - 7 November 1917
• BRITISH OFFENSIVE • Break the German line • Capture Ostend and Zeebrugge ports – German U-boat bases • Ports being used for unrestricted U-boat warfare which sunk ¼ of British supply ships – leaving Britain with only six weeks supply of food
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Passchendaele result
• 240 000 British 260 000 German casualties • British gained less than 8km land • Relieved pressure on the French • 88 divisions = third of the German army • 43 divisions = more than half of the British army
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Changing attitudes Britain early
Early response was overwhelmingly supportive • No conscription, conscription had never been used • Rush to enlist – desire to volunteer transcended class lines • Obedient response to propaganda
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Attitude Britina later
1916 enthusiasm had disappeared • Reality of the trenches had greatly changed the attitude of men at the front • War futility and slaughter affected troop morale • Turning point was extreme carnage at the Battle of the Somme
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German attitudes early
1. Enthusiasm and excitement 2. Same motivation as Britain • Patriotism, honour, duty • Steady income • Impressing girls • Peer pressure
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German attitude late
1. Unrest • March 1917 – major strikes in Kiel • August 1917 – 500 sailors disobey orders • November 1918 – massive mutinies, Kaiser abdicated, revolution • Disillusionment, war weariness • By 1917 − Parts of Germany were facing starvation
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Total war
. Enormous scale of the war 2. Need to keep up armaments, reinforcements, supplies, and civilian morale – leading to war of attrition 3. Military forces aimed at civilian targets e.g. Attacks on British coast 4. Total war = complete use of resources
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Germany and Total War
• Had it from the start of the war • Germany’s allies needed much support from them. Therefore the blockade had a much greater impact and began to cripple Germany. − Whereas Britain had allies that were much stronger and did not require much support
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Financing the war Germany
• Germany only receiving 16% of the required 3 billion marks through taxation. • Minister of Finance (Helferich) ordered the production of more currency. His hope was that the enemy would pay the bill at the end of the war • Circulation of paper mon
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Britain and total war
• Slow to move to organization for total war, but they were quick to assume controls. • On 8 August 1914 the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was passed. • This suspended civil rights and put Britain under virtual martial law. • Police were given righ
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• During the war the DORA’S scope was gradually increased to encompass control over a wide range of activities • 1917 – kite fling became illegal. • DORA gave government power to requisition all forms of transport and could by goods at rock
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Control on food Britain
• British living standards did not drop like Germany’s, and for many nutrition and diet improved during the war due to direct government intervention, which maintained wage levels • Government aim was to keep workers happy, prevent strikes that would
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Britain munitions
• Spring of 1915, British government realised it was desperately short of artillery shells, highlighted by the difficulties the army faced at Neuve Chapene. • Britain producing 700 shells per day, compared to the 250,000 coming out of German factori
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Financing the war Britain
• Income tax rose to 150% in three successive budgets to reach a level of 30% of income by 1918.
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• In July 1914 there were 3.22 million women in the workforce; by January 1918 this number had increased to 4.8 million. • By July 1918, 80% of British munitions were being produced by female munitions workers- munitionette
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Female suffrage
• Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel Pankhurst, key figures in the Women’s social and Political Union (WSPU), encouraged men to enlist, demanded the harsh treatment of contentious objectors
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Reason for US entry
1. Unrestricted submarine warfare • May 1915 Lusitania 128 civilian casualties • Feb 1917 resumption of U-boat campaign, more lives lost 2. Effectiveness of British propaganda 3. Zimmerman telegram Jan 1917
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Effect of US
∗ July 1918 – 10, 000 a day leaving the US − Allied huge boost in morale − Feeling that the war could be won − Could send an unlimited number of reserves
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Military role of US
− 250 000 American troops in Second Battle of the Marne (July 1918) – defeat which marked the end of the German offensive − Mines in the North Sea = 56 000/70 000 American
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Impacts of Russian withdrawal
• Gave Ludendorff ‘window of opportunity’ – moving Eastern troops quickly to Western Front before the Us arrived • 400,000 men to reinforce the Western Front
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• Ludendorff believed that the chances of Allies winning would increase the longer the war dragged on
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Differences in WW1 to earlier wars 2


• Defensive tactics became superior to offensive causing trench warfare • Protracted warfare – reliance on constant supplies • Total war – industrial production and civilian morale • War of attrition; gradually wearing down the opposition to a point

Card 3


How many countries involved in ww1


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Card 4


Reactions to the outbreak of war •


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Card 5


The Schlieffen Plan


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