• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Was there much change in the fighting methods employed by the British Army on the western front in the years 1915-1918?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Was there much change in the fighting methods employed by the British Army on the western front in the years 1915-1918? Explain your answer. Matt Elliman l The traditional interpretation of the first world war and the tactics employed by officers is that of blundering 'donkeys' sending thousands of 'lions' over the top to their deaths, an example of this is portrayed in the popular black adder sketch. There was some continuity such as in the scale of casualties and trench warfare yet at the same time there was rapid change. The military tactics employed by the British army at the outbreak of war were traditionalist and backward compared to the advances in weaponry and technology. The common belief of the officers was that the way to win was to attack, charging and outflanking with the cavalry and following up with the infantry. This began to change as the 'war of movement' came to a close and trench warfare began. At first the belief was that if large enough numbers of infantry were used in wave after wave of aggressive bayonet charges then there was no way that the enemy could not be overwhelmed. This resulted in heavy casualties in the BEF, (what remained of the original force) and also in the French army. The underlying fault with this tactic was that with the advances made the advantage was with the defender, using trenches, bunkers, barbed wire and machine guns, the defenders (especially the Germans who utilised the machine gun first and on the greater scale) ...read more.

Middle

They were called landships due to the perception that they were an extension of the navy hence the whole idea of ships on land leading to 'landships'. Many people backed the development of the tank, (which gained its later name from the fact that they were disguised as water tanks) including Winston Churchill the then minister for war, and Lloyd George the prime minister. The early forms of the tank were unreliable and often ineffective, breaking down frequently, some times even before reaching the frontline. They were effective in boosting infantry morale at first and when they reached the German lines they scared and routed many soldiers on their first appearances, but once the unknown factor wore off and the infantry saw the problems with them and their tendency to get stuck they lost faith in them. Despite this the potential of the tank was demonstrated at Cambrai in 1917 and contributed significantly to the attack of the Hindenburg defences in 1918. The tank is an example of the enormity of change; they were used at first in small numbers, such as at flers where only 36 were used where as at Cambrai 474 tanks were used successfully. As well as in numbers there was change and advances in the tanks themselves, with the British producing mark 1 to mark 4 female (machine gun only) and male versions (included two six pounder guns) ...read more.

Conclusion

Throughout the middle of the war, late 1915 to the beginning of 1918, the general model for attacks were based on the battle of the loos; where the divisions were lined up in columns to attack in waves, protected by covering fire or advancing directly where the enemy had been neutralized by artillery bombardment. The use of the waves of attack was an attempt to ensure that wherever a breakthrough was discovered or achieved that it was exploited and held. Although these ideas had been developing in the British army before the war, they had received important backing from the French captain Laffargue. Thus showing how changes were not sudden yet gradual and various areas advanced at different rates and eventually cumulated in an improved base of attack. This was also a prelude to infiltration tactics which finally lead to a successful form attack with a combination of tanks, artillery and planes all in large numbers. One example is the numbers of machine guns, at the start of the war there were 1,330 in the British army with 4 guns per battalion and by the end the war there were 240,506 guns, at 30 per battalion and a machine gun corps. Therefore I believe there was great change in the British army's fighting methods, despite the continuity in trench warfare. Although it was not complete change, just the adoption and accepting of certain resources and strategies and the refinement of these ending in the successful combination of all these changes and technological advances. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  1. How did the fighting on the Western front change?

    This involved attacking the enemy's front lines with heavy artillery none stop (called a Barrage). As soon as this Barrage stopped troops would be given the signal to 'go over the top', this was when the soldiers climbed over the top of the trench and raced to get over the

  2. "'Lions led by donkeys.' How valid is this interpretation of the conduct of British ...

    This section gives information regarding the leaders from the sources. Perhaps the man with the most influence on the at-the-scene battle was Sir Douglas Haig (1861-1928). Source B1 gives a lot of background information from a modern history book, which is considered very reliable.

  1. 'Lions Led by Donkeys'. How valid is this interpretation of the conduct of British ...

    Blackadder is a comedy and people laugh at it. Therefore there must have been some truth in it otherwise it would not be funny. However Blackadder exaggerates the situation because it is for a satirical programme. So the purpose of the programme would have been to entertain people and make them laugh.

  2. How and Why did war poetry change during the years 1914 - 1918

    reader, making them feel guilty, making them out to be gutless and cowardly by not going to war. Pope compares the cowards to the patriots who are worshiped by friends and family, adored by all. In the first three stanzas Pope asks questions of the reader; who will fight, who

  1. Was there much change in warfare on the Western Front between the end of ...

    Only in 1917 were moulded respirators with goggles introduced. Although 2 years from a urine soaked handkerchief to a fully moulded respirator may seem a rapid change, in 1917 respirators became obsolete due to mustard gas being developed. This meant that the Allies had to develop protective clothing.

  2. In 1915 a British newspaper printed a letter from a

    It was something more profound than patriotism, as though an hereditary instinct of nationhood had swept aside other considerations, daring our manhood and impelling us subconsciously to the battlefield. Whatever it was, many of us felt we must take up the challenge....We were confident victory waited for us across the

  1. The following reasons were equally important reasons why the stalemate on the western front ...

    At first, counter measures against gas were primitive, among them pads of cotton waste soaked in liquid. Caps and masks in rubber were developed to stop the effect of the mustard gas. Special watch posts were also installed on the front line, with the task of sounding the alarm in

  2. "Poems and stories; official accounts. Which of these give a more accurate picture of ...

    The fact that this detail is correct makes the other information in the poem more believable, she describes that the mud is drowning the soldiers, obviously this is in a metaphorical sense, but I believe she means that it destroys their morale and health.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work