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Was there much change in warfare on the Western front between the end of 1914 and March 1918?

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Introduction

GCSE COURSEWORK - AO 2 Following the battle of the Marne and the race to the Sea a trench line was set up from Switzerland to the North Sea. This trench line was in place by the end of 1914. In March 1918 the Germans launched a major attack under the code name "Operation Michael". Was there much change in warfare on the Western front between the end of 1914 and March 1918? Explain your answer. The period of World War One was a time of great change. Transformations occurred in many fields of life, but in other ways many things stayed the same. Technology was greatly improved upon during the course of the war. Aeroplanes, tanks, artillery, gas and machine guns were all created or significantly improved upon. Possibly the biggest advance of these was that of aircraft. Blacks sent over from British colonised Africa were amazed by them, calling them "Steam engines of the air". The plane had only been created eleven years earlier by the Wright brothers and, at the beginning of the war, was still temperamental and deemed of limited use by Commanders. The early machines were weak and fragile and none of the great powers possessed a significant amount of them. They were first used as reconnaissance planes because they were unable to inflict enough damage to major enemy targets to change the course of a battle or campaign. ...read more.

Middle

Early in the war, for example at the battle of the Somme - which started July 1916 - artillery was fired for a week beforehand to "destroy" the enemy's fortifications, barbed wire and defending force. But, at 7:30 on the 1st of July, when the guns stopped - the signal for the British to get out of their trenches and walk to the enemy lines - the Germans knew that the attack had begun, and simply crawled from their dug-outs to man their machine gun posts. This problem was averted with the creation of the "creeping barrage" which was used first with the 7 and 18 division on the British XV corps on one area on the first day of the Somme with great success. The idea was that the artillery would fire upon the enemy front line, and then progressively further and further away, with the advancing soldiers close (ideally100m) behind the line of fire. Then when the enemy finally rose from its trench, the British attackers were less than 100 metres from their position. This was, however, tricky because communication was difficult between the attacking force and the artillery commanders, and there was the constant risk of the falling shells blowing-up their own soldiers due to errors, and so very accurate guns were needed. The type, and attitude, of the British army also changed over the course of the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

To illustrate this change is the idea of "punching the line" - created in 1917 - as a compromise to the "Big push". "Punching the line" was when there were a series of little attacks along a large area of the enemy's front line instead of a huge attack on a small area - the idea of pricking a plastic sheet many times with a pin to weaken it, rather than trying to punch your fist through it. This shows a change in strategy from some of the attackers. Unfortunately Haig believed that after many successes from this tactic (e.g. at Messines hill), it was time for another big push to finish the "Huns" off. This led to the massacre at Passchendaele, which shows that the strategy of Commanders didn't change during WW1 due to their outmoded and old-fashioned views on warfare. The last thing that didn't change was the geography of the front. Although attacks won ground in places - creating 'bulges' in the line, the enemy would eventually win it back and a 'salient' would be created. Throughout the war, the trench line writhed like a snake, but mostly stayed in the same position. Overall, there were massive changes in all fields of life during the First World War. Some aspects changed quickly, and some changes took a long time, for example, it took the allies three years to understand what tactics to use against the enemy in the trenches. But, on the other hand, many aspects did not change at all. WORD COUNT: 1,456 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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