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

Why Did the Stalemate on the Western Front Occur?

Extracts from this document...


Why Did the Stalemate on the Western Front Occur? Alex Lines Why was there a stalemate on the western front for so long? This is a common question, discussed many times among many people. In total, between Germany, Britain and France, deaths amounted to 4,039,871, and 10,442,270 more were wounded during the whole war, and most of these casualties were caused in the stalemate on the western front. In truth, there are several reasons why the stalemate occurred. In my opinion, the most important reason for the stalemate was the strategies used during the war. With a lack of imagination from the generals added to the defensive stance of the Germans meant that the stalemate lasted a very long time. The overall offensive tactics involved mainly an artillery bombardment, infantry climbing out of the trenches to eliminate the enemy, then a support attack of cavalry. However, though this tactic may have worked in the past, the addition of the new weapon, the machine gun, destroyed any real chance of this orthodox attack from succeeding. The generals of the First World War started off (and carried on throughout most of the war) with the idea of massed infantry charges with bayonets fixed to their rifles, so with the ability to fire 600 rounds per minute, this weapon was excellent for wiping out large numbers of infantry and cavalry units, thus making it an excellent weapon of defence. ...read more.


Artillery fire accounted for a huge majority of casualties in the First World War (58%), so it was obviously very effective. However, the Allied generals felt that artillery should be used for offensives. It may have started off effective, but the Germans soon built deep bunkers, which protected them from most physical damage from the shells. Another effective defensive weapon was barbed wire, which both sides used. This caused attacking men to be trapped, and easy targets for enemy fire. Thus it prevented a lot of men from attacking the trenches. Artillery fire was used in an attempt to destroy the wire, but more often than not it threw the wire up, and it came down often in a worse tangle than before. Not only did this fail to work, but it also warned the defenders of an attack. These weapons meant that it was very hard to get a successful attack through to the trenches, and these breakthroughs were usually crushed before reinforcements came in time. There were some weapons created in an attempt to cause a massive breakthrough, but they weren't really effective. Gas was used for the first time in the First World War, but this was countered with the invention of gas masks. Underground mining was used to blow up trenches, but though effective, it took too long to lay mines, and the explosions only destroyed a small part of a trench. So, the weapons developed did very little to break the stalemate. ...read more.


This means that bombardment would have had to have been left out, so that there was a greater chance of attacking with surprise on their side. If conscription hadn't been introduced to armies, then the war of attrition wouldn't have been able to continue at Verdun or indeed anywhere else, because the armies would simply have run out of soldiers. This would mean that which ever side ran out of men first would have to surrender. The side that ran out first would probably be Germany's side, since that it was only Germany and Austria-Hungary fighting together, whereas the Allies had Russia, France, Great Britain, and all of Great Britain's colonies fighting together. If it weren't for the compressed front in which the stalemate took place, then there would have been the possibility of flank attacks. The compressed front, however, limited the generals' strategy. The geography of no-man's land also affected tactics. The attackers usually had real problems crossing no-man's land, and this was where geography affected the weapons used. Machine guns, given high ground, could hold off a lot of men for a very long time. It could be said that weapons affected geography as well, because the artillery and mines created craters that could be used either as obstacles or cover. Communication also affected tactics. The breakthroughs that were made weren't capitalised because of bad communication, so reinforcements usually arrived too late. So, all in all, I believe that the main reason for the stalemate is the lack of imagination on the generals' part, but really the other reasons are almost as important. ...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. Were the British Generals like Sir Douglas Haig responsible for the high casualty figures?

    So all these mistakes made by the generals played a big part in the soldiers dying. The Third battle of Ypres often called Passendeale began on July 31st 1917. The Ypres sailent was a disastrous place form which to launch an attack, the German Army surrounded it on three sides.

  2. Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-1941?

    Information films were the type of things that were designed to put over a message as to how civilians should behave during the war. "Miss Grant goes to the door" was a classic example. In it the short film gave the viewer advice on how to recognise a German paratrooper and spy.

  1. The development of a Stalemate

    So when they had run out of ideas the armies had no choice but to stay where they were and build trenches so they could defend the land that they had gained. Also because the military leaders didn't know what to do next this led to them making stupid mistakes for example Molke deciding to cut inside and attack Paris.

  2. What Was Life Really Like In The Trenches On The Western Front

    The communication trenches where also used to move wounded men to casualty clearing stations. The other trenches the support trenches and the reserve trenches where practically the same as the front line trenches but without the periscopes, machine guns and the barbed wire exactly in front of them.

  1. In my work i am going to explain why i believe that new technology ...

    The Germans then sent out u boats to blow up the convoys that were blocking the port so we stopped the U-boats by putting mines into the water and more convoys. Now the war at sea was centred on supply ships so the supply ships were transported with battle ships to protect them.

  2. Why did stalemate develop on the western front?

    * Machine guns, and the newly-made Lee Enfield rifle, could mow down charging infantry. As the Germans were the first to decide where to stand fast and dig, they had been able to choose the best places to build their trenches.

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

    British and French armies managed to push the Germans back to the river Aisne where they began to dig trenches to defend themselves. Advancing allies hesitated and stopped. One man and a machine gun protected by mounds of earth was a very powerful weapon.

  2. I need to produce a marketing strategy for a new or existing product. I ...

    Around 40K customers switch to British Gas for their electricity supply every week. Customers that have switched to British Gas for electricity have seen their annual bills cut, in real terms, by an average �30 in the two and half years since competition was introduced British Gas customers have seen even bigger savings.

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