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Why was the Western Front so static for so long?

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Introduction

The western front 1914~1918 continuity and change For over three years, from the end of 1914 to early 1918 the Western Front never moved for more than a mile or so one way or the other. Then in 1918 there was considerable movement as first the Ger,ams amd then the allies advanced. Why was the Western Front so static for so long? There are arguably two main reasons why the Western front was static for so long. The first is the failure of the German and French plans of attack. The second is the inability to adapt to the changing nature of warfare. The French and Germans both had plans that relied on rapid offensive attacks, however when these failed war became static. The German offensive plan known as the Schlieffen plan failed for a number of reasons; it was not followed because the Generals von Kluk and von Moltke went to the east instead of taking Paris, the BEF proved a problem, and the Russians mobilised quicker than expected. This last factor not only helped to ensure the failure of this forward going plan, hence to initially bring about static but it also helped ensure it continued by acting as a diversion from the western front.This diversion helped to ensure the Germans did not have the power to attack and break the stalemate.The French plan, plan 'XVII' also failed as a result of a lack of ability to move forward. ...read more.

Middle

Their use on the Western front was not only a change in itself but it also changed the nature of warfare more fundamentally as it meant that warfare was no longer just about men fighting men, but technology was now a vitally important factor. An important example of this new technology is the powerful machines guns introduced by the Germans which could kill rows of advancing men. This is supported by the words of a German gunner at the Battle of the Somme, 'when we started firing they went down in their hundreds.' In 1918 these machines guns were made portable. Tanks and aeroplanes, even if both only reached the early stages of their developemnt and were largely not used to the full extent of their capabilities, are further examples of such new technology. Planes, for example even though they were largely only used for reconnaisance missions signalled the dawning of a new age of warfare. This was because it took warfare into a whole new dimension, the skies. Poison gas, first used by the Germans in 1915, also signalled a great change in the nature of warfare, as it was the beginning of the use of chemicals in warfare. Another important change in the course of this period was in the sphere of tactics. ...read more.

Conclusion

The allies too adopted new tactics in July 1918 and these also relied on a series of rapid blows. They also introduced a new tactic of properly uniting their forces under one supreme commander, Foch. The morale of both sides changed dramatically in 1918 and morale is a vitally important factor in warfare. The Germans morale was broken by September not only because the British blockade was causing suffering on the 'Home Front' but also because the German spring offensive had failed whilst the allies counter-attack was proving more successful. The morale of the allies was obviously high as a result of this success. The fact that the Americans had entered the war on their side, as well as providing the practical support for the 1918 offensive at the rate of 300,000 men a month, must also have served to boost the morale of the allies in 1918. The final change in 1918 was the successful exploitation of the further improved offensive war technology. This was not only a change in itself but it perhaps also suggests that the millitary mindset had changed and it had finally been realised that it was of little use just using men to face machines, offensive machines needed to be used. The British counter attack in 1918 involved the use of 450 tanks to lead the infantry through the barbed wire, tanks that were now more reliable. ...read more.

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