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Describe the conditions that soldiers experienced on the Western Front in the years 1915-17.

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Introduction

Coursework Question 1: describe the conditions that soldiers experienced on the Western Front in the years 1915-17. The trenches were basically holes in the ground, laid out in a zigzag pattern stretching all the way from Switzerland to the North Sea. On one side were the British and French, the Germans on the other. This form of defence basically brought on a stalemate on the western front, were neither side could outflank the other, and neither side could break through the other's defences. This new from of war, 'Trench Warfare' was brought on by the onslaught of new military technologies, mainly the machine gun and heavy artillery. Machine guns could be handled by anyone, no skill required. The high rate of fire allowed the gun to be fired into a crowd, killing everyone there. This was used against any enemy advances, to reduce the attacking army to nothing within seconds. The ruthless efficiency of this weapon made it a popular base defence, cutting down chances of a successful enemy attack. ...read more.

Middle

They could rarely see the enemy but they knew they were there across no-mans land. They lived under constant fear of sniper or machine gun fire if they put their head above the parapet. The health services were terrible. The hospitals were far from the front line, and few survived the way there. Mass graves were commonplace, and so was the sickly sweat smell of rotting corpses. Overall conditions in the trenches were savage and terrible, worse than what might have been in the stone ages, but people survived, until they had to go over the top. The wait was usually the worst part. Question 2: Why was there a stalemate on the Western Front during much of the First World War? The First World War was a war that was supposed to be over by Christmas. That was the general idea. Either side would win clearly in a decisive victory and the war would be won. In a way it was over by Christmas, four years later. The stalemate at the Western Front could be blamed for this. ...read more.

Conclusion

The generals had no idea what to do, but to stick to what they thought was the way to fight a war using outdated tactics that no longer applied because of the new weapons. Battles turned into massacres as millions of men went over the top in battle such as Neuve Chapelle and Compiegne, where around seventy-to-eighty thousand men were lost to gain a few square kilometres of land. Worse is the Battle of Arras, where 120,000 men were lost, without anything to show for it. The tactic of going 'over the top' had been proved to be useless, a waste of lives, to all people but the generals. They continued to send more and more people to their deaths, only because they couldn't think of another way to do it. The new weapons were not of much help either. Tanks were close to useless, artillery had a worse effect on the army than the enemy, and machine guns made waves of attacking people no problem to mow down by the hundreds. GCSE- History Hasan Haider, 11C 1 ...read more.

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