• 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. 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.

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

    Its main purpose is to show the rest of the world what the Australians went through at the front. The scenes, from which I retrieved most of my information from, were the last few. This is when the troops are awaiting the push.

  1. The Western Front

    with a strong US force, and although the Germans initially gained ground they were eventually halted and turned back. The Allied counterattack, beginning 18 July, is sometimes referred to as the Third Battle of the Marne and it forced the Germans back to a line running from Reims to Soissons.

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

    My own knowledge also concurs with the fact that several men said, "they had never before been so well instructed and informed" - as the soldiers were very well prepared before the Battle, suggesting the source is reliable. Furthermore, if Haig had decided to alter the facts of the war,

  1. Were the Heavy Allied Casualties on The Western Front Caused Mainly by the Tactics ...

    It is immediately obvious that the main casualties in the war were caused by the commanders to some degree- their role in the army was to give orders to the soldiers; these orders caused many soldiers to sacrifice their lives regardless of the tactics utilised.

  2. In February 1943, the German Army surrendered at Stalingrad, Was Hitlers interference the main ...

    Therefore I can associate the arrogance of Hitler and his armies, to the fact that Hitler did not allow much time for the attack as he thought Russia would fall with ease. However this didn't happen and the fighting carried on into the cold winter months which impacted the Germans attack.

  1. History Sourcework- Field Marshal Haig Final

    Therefore it is good for showing one side of the commander, but lacks balance by not showing his strengths and so is fairly weak for studying Haig's reputation in an impartial way. 3). The interpretation that "It was the misfortune of the British Empire and Commonwealth that during the crucial

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

    Once they had been seized, cavalry units would pour through to pursue the fleeing Germans. However, unconcealed preparations for the assault and the week long bombardment gave the Germans clear warning. Happy to remain on French soil, German trenches were heavily fortified and, furthermore, many of the British shells failed to explode.

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