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

Why did a stalemate develop on the Western Front?

Extracts from this document...


Why did a stalemate develop on the Western Front? In mid-September 1914 German troops dug into the high ground over looking the river Aisne, in northern France. After heavy losses in vain attempts to take the German line, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was forced into a deadlock; they could not get to the enemy. This was the beginning of the Western Front. What followed was 'The race to the sea' as the BEF, the French, and the German Armies tried to outflank each other, northward, until they reached the English Channel. All three armies left complex trench systems behind them and as they became grounded, a 'war of movement' became a 'war of position'. Trenches stretched from Switzerland all the way to the Channel. Sir John French, Commander of the BEF, stated in a letter to King George V, "the spade will be as great a necessity as the rifle". ...read more.


Early in the war the machine gun became widely available and soon both sides had a vast number of these deadly weapons which were used to great effect. Long lines of advancing infantry could be mowed down at an alarming rate. Both sides used this new weapon to successfully defend themselves, but in doing so they simply perpetuated the deadlock. As with machine guns, the Allies and the Germans matched each other in terms of troop numbers, rifles and military technology. This was an important factor in the development of the stalemate. Artillery became the backbone of any infantry assault on the enemy lines. Short-barrelled howitzer guns could now accurately pound enemy trenches, or stop infantry charges. The weaponry turned no-man's land into a crater-filled bog which hampered movement and communication. At Neuve Chapelle in 1916, for example, the artillery showed its devastating power when 340 British guns obliterated the German line in a few hours. ...read more.


They were fortified with sandbags and protected by barbed wire which trapped oncoming infantry, and exposed them to gunfire. Even the term 'digging in' carries a connotation of permanence. Soldiers were expecting to fight for a long period of time, and therefore this contributed to the stalemate. Not only physical factors were important in the development of a deadlock, there was a psychological side to the conflict as well. A large number of unwritten arrangements came into being. Many men saw that they were in permanent positions that would rarely move. They therefore concentrated on making life for themselves as bearable as possible rather than committing themselves to almost certain death. An example of this can be seen in the reluctance of all armies to fire shells at mealtimes. This etiquette was also demonstrated in the Christmas truces in 1914 up and down the Western Front. All these factors combined to create a stalemate on the Western Front which was only to be lifted in 1917-18. Luke la Hausse, 4 Alpha ...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. To what extent was poor leadership responsible for massive loss of life, and stalemate ...

    Although Joffre was concerned with territorial gain, it was also an attempt to destroy German manpower. Joffre first intended to use mainly French troops but it was eventually decided to turn it into a large scale British diversionary offensive. At this point General Sir Douglas Haig now tool over responsibility

  2. The development of a Stalemate

    It took only three weeks for each of the war plans to fail, which meant that after only three weeks the military leaders had to rethink what to do next. The first of which being The Schlieffen Plan, when the German armies marched into Belgium the Belgium army put up more resistance than Germany had expected.

  1. Why did stalemate develop on the western front?

    A race began to take control of this position. Without weakening their grip on the defensive line of trenches, each army tried to outflank the other to gain the advantage. This so called 'Race for the Sea' ended at the first battle of Ypres. By the end of 1914 the offensive approach had been abandoned in favour of a

  2. Why Did the Stalemate on the Western Front Occur?

    However, the trench warfare during the First World War contradicted this, since the attackers had to move towards good defensive positions under heavy fire from the defenders, made even heavier with the addition of machine guns. The Germans, under the command of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, also built

  1. The stalemate developed on the Western front - why and for how long?

    On October 8th the Germans took Ostend and on 15th October they captured Antwerp. On October 18th Ypres in Belgium was recaptured from the Germans and the other channel ports were safe in allied hands. The race for the sea was over and both sides were 'dug in' for the

  2. The Western Front.

    The British Army worked on a 16 day timetable. Each soldier usually spent eight days in the front line and four days in the reserve trench. Another four days were spent in a rest camp that was built a few miles away from the fighting. However, when the army was short of men, soldiers had to spend far longer periods at the front.

  1. Why Did A Stalemate Develop On The Western Front ?

    The French pushed Germany back sixty kilometres, both sides tried to outflank each other but they ended up by the sea.

  2. New technologies and their effect on the stalemate on the Western Front.

    He was another of the many trying to develop a machine-gun that could fire through rotating propeller blades. In autumn of 1915 Fokker was fitting his Eindecker planes with interrupter gear, therefore producing the first true fighter aircraft. Also called a synchronizing gear, the propeller was linked by a shaft

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