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Shells and artillery accounted for up to 70% of the casualties between 1914 and 1918.

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Coursework 1. The role bombardment changed during the war. At the beginning of the war the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had 486 guns; all of them light field pieces except one. This shows that perhaps the army commanders thought that bombardment would not be a decisive aspect during the war. By the end of the war the British Army boasted 6,432 guns of all types in France. This shows that by the end of the war the army commanders felt that bombardment was an extremely important aspect in defeating the enemy. Shells and artillery accounted for up to 70% of the casualties between 1914 and 1918. The thinking of the High Command of all the armies during the war was that bombardment had three main aims: a) To destroy the trench systems of the enemy, b) To kill all enemy soldiers so that infantry could advance across 'No Man's Land' unopposed c) If any soldiers were to survive it would destroy their mentality and turn them into "shivering beasts", as one British observer stated. However in almost every battle, preliminary bombardment failed to destroy barbed wire, deep concrete bunkers (especially important at the Somme) and most soldiers survived ready to man machine guns--probably the most important factor. Source A is a fairly un-useful source in that it is a generalisation of the situation. ...read more.


All these statements suggest that Haig was a bone-idle and un-knowledgeable about the conditions faced by soldiers at the front. Many front line soldiers all had a similar view of Haig as is said in source C-"The biggest murderer of the lot was Haig." This is a very extreme view and shows the hatefulness felt towards Haig. However I feel that as a military commander his ability to win the war was overshadowed by his inability to recognise that mass loss of life was more important to save then a few yards of ground that would probably be gained back later. 3. There is no doubt that the two significant battles of 1916 greatly affected the outcome of the war in the end. However I disagree with the statement that "the writing was on the wall for Germany after 1916". This is for several reasons. Firstly is the significance of the two major battles; the Somme and Verdun. On February 21st 1916 German infantry divisions emerged from their deep entrenchments four miles north of Fort Douaumont. It took the Germans 5 days to capture Fort Douaumont, only 121/2 miles from Verdun itself. General Petain, who took command of troops in Verdun on 24th February 1916, introduced new tactics which would either result in victory or a fatal defeat. ...read more.


The final reason that German wasn't defeated outright in 1916 was because I believe the most important factor to their eventual defeat was the introduction of American troops. America declared war in April 1917 and I believe that this did put the 'writing on the wall' for Germany. This is because now the Allied Forces had the significant advantage of over 2 million extra men on the front and the Central Powers, especially Germany, couldn't replace the men lost in battles. America's first influential battle was the second battle of the Marne where over 85,000 American troops took part in the battle. This battle is widely regarded as the last attempt by the Central Powers to beak through the Allied lines. So in conclusion I believe that although both the Somme and Verdun played a major part in reducing the power and size of the German army it failed to immediately destroy the moral and resolve of the soldiers and resulted in heavy casualties for the Allies. However, due to later influences including America's arrival into the war, the Allies were able to replace the men lost in major battles and eventually wear down the political strength of Germany and break down their home front resulting in the collapse of the German army and the end of the Great War. ...read more.

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