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To what extent was poor leadership responsible for massive loss of life, and stalemate on the Western Front 1914 - 1918?

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Introduction

To what extent was poor leadership responsible for massive loss of life, and stalemate on the Western Front 1914 - 1918? Poor leadership, throughout World War One was one of main causes, of such large losses of life. Better planning and a careful delivery of instructions would more than likely have resulted in higher success and the loss of fewer men. Generals and commanders sat in their country mansions in arrogance, far from the front lines planning endless attacks with hardly any regard for human life. Commander Robson wrote, 'Wiring parties worked though the nights while raiders tried to cut gaps - these gaps then showed the enemy where an attack would have come.' The evidence speaks for itself. It seems that leadership, poor or not was crucial on and off the battle field, and those who were wealthy and could buy their positions, leading positions at that, should not have been allowed to do so when the lives of other men were at stake. Stalemate was the bane of all commanders that fought on the Western Front throughout the duration of the First World War; the taking of little ground, and the loss of many good men. The most famous example was the Western Front, where Germany planned at first to take out France before Russia could strike, but all did not go as they planned. The Russians managed to mobilise a large enough army, quick enough to strike Germany when she least expected it, and as a result many troops that were going to be used for the infamous Shlieffen Plan, had to be diverted back to the east to defend against the ever advancing Russians. ...read more.

Middle

Poor leadership resulted in the war being so prolonged; by November the winter began to creep up on the lines and all the operations literally became bogged down, and the war of rapid movement originally planned by the generals, had turned into a slogging match between each of the sides of entrenched armies, and the lines moved very little from then on. Factors such as the weather should have been taken into account when the war was being planned. A combination of the sheer drop in temperatures and the wet muddy conditions resulted in the death of some soldiers not out on the battle fields, but in what was seen as their homes, the trenches. Ignorantly commanders wrongly predicted that the war that was to last for years would be over in a matter of months, they told all the men they would be home by Christmas. It can be argued that poor leadership lost the Germans the war, not troops, or lack of morale, towards the end of the war anyhow, although they were contributing factors. The Germans made a decisive decision in 1918, the commander at the time Ludendorff chose to throw all the available troops into battle on the Western Front in an attempt for one last victory. For four months Ludendorff struck without respite at all different section of the front, but one by one the attacks were repelled by the British, French and American troops, with the Germans taking heavy casualties. ...read more.

Conclusion

This instruction to go over to an enemy trench in such a fashion was folly; after all did Haig really think his bombardment would have killed all the Germans, or that they had simply run away? This 'poor' leadership to say the least, was a clear example of the extent of poor leadership that was responsible for massive loss of life, and stalemate on the Western Front. However, the commanders of the Western Front must not entirely discredited for their efforts, they did eventually manage to break the stalemate. During the last few months of the war in 1918, a war of movement began once more. The introduction of the tank by the British finally rendered the trench lines penetrable, and increased usage of aeroplanes not only made small scale bombings possible on open trench lines, but also allowed more accurate reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. In conclusion, leadership was vital in a war of such a scale. It should be undertaken by high ranking, experienced, and intelligent people. This was not always the case, and when mistakes occur the effects are usually worse than expected in situations such as war. Leadership was to a large extent to blame, although not entirely, for the large needless losses of life, and stalemate on the Western Front 1914 - 1918. Attacks should be planned very carefully, with every aspect and possibility taken into account, as we saw with the German commanders of the Shlieffen plan who did not expect the Russians to mobilise so quickly. Poor leadership, means poor results clearly proven on countless occasions such as the Somme and the defence of Ypres. ...read more.

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