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Why was World War One the first and last major war to be characterised by trench warfare?

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Introduction

Why was World War One the first and last major war to be characterised by trench warfare? One reason why trench warfare developed on the Western Front was the failure of the Schlieffen Plan. The Schlieffen Plan was Germany's idea of increasing their empire whilst preventing a war on two fronts between France and Russia. The plan was that the Germans would conquer France quickly in order to ready themselves against the immanent attack from Russia. They wanted to do this all in six weeks, and to do that they needed to go through Belgium and take Paris. The Germans gambled that the Russians would be slow to mobilise their forces in time to attack Germany on the Eastern Front; they also gambled that the advance through Belgium would be quick because their wouldn't be any resistance to their passing; and they also suspected that Britain wouldn't keep their promise to protect Belgium. But these three gambles turned out to be very wrong as the Russians got their forces moving very quickly, and Belgians did resist the Germans rite of passage, allowing the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) enough time to help fight the Germans. ...read more.

Middle

But shells were only mainly used to bombard the enemy before an attack early in World War One, which was a defensive measure. All in all, artillery was best used as a defensive weapon protecting all the soldiers from the enemy. Barbed wire was another weapon to aid in defence, it left the attacking forces without a way into their enemies trenches so they could be picked off whilst trying to find a gap. But, it was only any good for defence; it couldn't do anything else. Almost every single weapon at the beginning of World War One could only be used for defence. But to defend a position properly, the area had to have 'defences' which protected the soldiers from artillery and gunfire. The best defences in this case were basically holes in the ground known as dugouts, fox holes or better known as trenches. The level of industrialisation also played an important part in contributing to trench warfare. Before the First World War, Britain had never fought against an industrial equal. All of the countries that Britain had conquered and turned into colonies had been underdeveloped and at a technological disadvantage, so Britain had no problem in overrunning them. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was easily counteracted with gas masks and in total, only 3000 British men died during the whole war. But the main significance of gas was the psychological effect. If men felt threatened of an imminent gas attack they kept their masks on. The masks restricted the men from talking, eating and even sleeping. Masks also restricted soldier's field of vision. These effects on the enemy made attacks very easy. Tanks were also used very successfully during the war. When tanks were first used in the battle of the Somme they crushed barbed-wire defences and sprayed the enemy with machine gun fire, alarming the Germans and boosting the British morale. But the Germans eventually overcome the tanks with armour-piercing machine-gun bullets and adapted field guns, but only after the tanks helped the British take a large amount of land. Even the war in the air played a part in ending trench warfare. Reconnaissance flights over enemy land showed weaknesses in the defence and enemy positions. Planes were also used to spot troop movement, spot and help adjust artillery fire, and even drop bombs on enemy trenches. All of these things helped the Allies win the war. Even if they only helped a little, they brought victory one step closer, along with the end of trench warfare. Matthew Jones 10c History Coursework 1 1 ...read more.

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