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

Was there much change in the fighting methods employed by the British Army on the Western Front in the years 1915-1918?

Extracts from this document...


Was there much change in the fighting methods employed by the British Army on the Western Front in the years 1915-1918? During the period of 1915 to 1918 ordinary infantry soldiers existed in a barbaric and hostile atmosphere where they were cold, infested, malnourished and wet, and always living with the fear of sudden death. Intermingled with the intense periods of boredom that the soldiers faced were often gung-ho attempts to capture enemy trenches, which would often result in very little territory gained and huge losses of life. And with the depressing reality faced there was the increasingly nagging belief on the soldiers' minds that they were "lions led by donkeys." It is not difficult to see why this perspective might be taken. The main battles fought by the British in 1915 were failures. At both Neuve Chappelle (13,000 casualties) and Loos (115,000 casualties) British attacks had begun promisingly, then failed due to casualties caused by machine guns and artillery fire on troops who had been caught up on the uncut barbed wire. And it was the same story in 1916: Second Ypres (60,000 casualties), The Somme (420,000 casualties), and even worse in 1917: Even the Canadian triumph at Vimy Ridge and the victory at Messines Ridge were overshadowed by the vast numbers of casualties suffered in Arras and Third Ypres (250,000 casualties). ...read more.


But it was an extremely slow tank, with a top speed of 15 yards a minute. It wasn't bullet proof, even though it was meant to be, and was mechanically unreliable. Also, the engine had no cooler so the tank heated up to extremely high temperatures, and became full of corrosive gasses and consequently were very unpleasant for the crew also, these tanks were prone to breaking down spontaneously, which meant that the Germans could attack men while they were stuck in their tanks. The Germans did not take the tank seriously and thought that the British could never use it as a great advantage. At the battle of Cambrai (November 1917), however, the 'Mark 4' tank showed the Germans the full capability of the tank. 378 were used in total, and this design was quicker and more bullet proof than before, and for once was used effectively with fresh tactics. The ground that they were used on was not cratered by a preliminary bombardment, and was also slightly downward sloping, which was the best landscape for their all round caterpillar tracks to be used on. Due to their new advantages, the 'Mark 4' tank was not only used as a fighting tank, but as a supply tank, a gun carrier, a bridging tank, a telephone cable-laying tank or a tank for transporting wireless equipment. ...read more.


However, the Germans recognized this problem and, in 1916, the defence was modified to make a superior defence that could not so easily be broken. This was a more elaborate trench system, with large counter-attack formations held in reserve, and ready to re-take any ground lost by the troops in the front line. But there were more Allied force troops than German troops, as well as the British's possession of better and more developed fighting equipment. So in 1917 the Germans changed there defence to a 'rear-facing slope defence.' The aim of this was to allow the enemy to exhaust itself, yet husband its own forces. A 'Killing Ground' was set up as the forward zone, which prevented the enemy of being able to shell the first and second lines at the same time. The rest of the ground was used to occupy reverse-facing slopes to deny accurate observation. But this defence was no match for the British 'creeping barrage' fighting technique, so in the end the Germans were forced to improvise defence, and eventually couldn't hold on any longer and lost. There was a good deal of change in fighting methods from 1915-18, but most of these changes were indicative to the actions of the enemy. If one side made a change, then the other would have to react to it accordingly. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE International relations 1900-1939 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 GCSE International relations 1900-1939 essays

  1. "Dad's Army" - How much can you learn from these sources about the work ...

    They are patrolling the roads in case of spies or invaders, a constant watch every hour of the day. The guards carried rifles with them to protect themselves and shoot the enemy. It is not a very reliable source though, as it was a cartoon and people made jokes about the patrols and exaggerated things.

  2. Why did British men enlist in the British army in 1914?

    Things that happened in industrial cities like Scarborough, where German hot air balloons called Zeppelins made bombing raids against civilians in the hope of disrupting production of arms and munitions.

  1. Who Was Responsible for The Tragedy at Gallipoli in 1915?

    This movie is obviously an Australian point of view, and as a result is biased, which is definitely a limitation. However, it gives a clear indication of how the troops landed, and just how bad communications were in the trenches.

  2. Dear Diary, It was the start of the Christmas month and I was ready ...

    Well after that event I was really tired and also injured. Right now I am in the trench hospital. Well I haven't used all of my guns yet. These are my guns, which I am using and caring with me: British Lee-Enfield Rifle- This is a bolt-action rifle, which is the British version.

  1. Describe the conditions that soldiers experienced on the Western Front in the years 1915-1917.

    All of the men had to back before dawn. Everyone ate breakfast except for the sentries who kept a careful watch on the enemy. The orderly officer checked the trenches and gave the days jobs. A third were given sentry duty, another third had to take up rations to the front-line up the communication trenches.

  2. History Sourcework- Field Marshal Haig Final

    phases of the First World War its military destiny was in the hands of Douglas Haig" is an unfair and one sided view of military performance throughout the war, and is one that has only come out from the critical side of Haig, not considering his strengths.

  1. Field Marshall Haig: 'The Butcher of the Somme'?

    Which one of these do you trust more? Unfortunately, the purpose for which Haig wrote source B is not completely evident, however it is likely to be a diary excerpt, due to the fact that it contains short, rushed sentences. This would result in the source to be reasonably reliable, as Haig wouldn't feel the need to lie

  2. Was Field Marshall Douglas Haig more important that the allied blockade of German naval ...

    The rise of new generals such as Rawlinson and John Monash came at the expense of old, ?bad? generals such as Hubert Gough, sacked in March 1918. Another problem with old tactics was that not enough power was given to ground forces.

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