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Why was the Western Front so static for so long? Is it true to say that there was no change in warfare in this period? What had changed in 1918?

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Why was the Western Front so static for so long? Is it true to say that there was no change in warfare in this period? What had changed in 1918? The Western Front was ground to a halt by the end of 1914 due to a number of reasons. The main reason for this, however, was the failure of the Shlieffen Plan. Shlieffen, the German Chief of Staff drew up the Shlieffen Plan, in 1905 to fight a war on two fronts. This plan was to concentrate forces against France, which would knock it out in six weeks, and this could only be done by attacking through neutral Belgium. Most of the French army was on the border with Germany. The Germans thought that if they moved fast enough they could race past the French troops and capture Paris in six weeks. At first the plan was very successful. In August 1914, German armies were advanced, under the control of Von Moltke, into Belgium. Brussels had fallen and the allied armies were very confused. The tiny British B. E.F, which consisted of just 100,000 soldiers defended at Mons, but were overpowered by the German advance, and were forced to retreat. By the end of August, the Germans were deep into French territory and Paris looked very susceptible to falling. ...read more.


Trench warfare was further developed because it did not limit the bombardment to just a single area but to four different points. This both disguised where the main point of attack would be and disrupted the enemy's efforts to bring reserves up. An example of this is when the Austrians did not realise that the main point of attack would come at Lutsk, and sent their reserves tot he wrong place. When the attack came, it too came in four different places, thereby making 'plugging the gaps' far harder. It was generally difficult to make successful attacks due to the trenches. As there were at least three to four lines of defence, the attackers had to make their way through all of them until they could have a successful attack. Many times these attack were not successful as the attackers were stopped either by the first or second line of defence. Weapons such as the bolt-action, magazine-fed rifle, the machine gun, breach-loaded artillery employing axial recoil, and elongated shell delivering shrapnel bullets and high explosive in a selected and not random fashion, were, in the their range and volume of fire, potent devices against forces advancing over open ground. Attacking forces also had similar weapons but were used in a slightly different way. Snipers, expert with a rifle in the hunting of prey were useful as they could pick off trench dwellers that exposed themselves even momentarily. ...read more.


The Germans began transferring huge numbers of troops from Russia to France. The Germans were able to advance further than they did in 1914 for two reasons. They had more men to send in and they also used gas shell to knock many of the British artillery batteries and high explosive shells were used to obliterate sections of the front line trenches. The Germans advanced 14 miles. The Germans were, however, stopped just before they reached Amines, as the British threw in more reinforcements. On August 8 the Allied attack was switched to the Amiens-Somme salient when a combined British and French force launched a determined assault. After a heavy artillery bombardment and a dawn attack by bombers of the R.A.F, an armada of 456 tanks led a great force of British, American, Canadian, Australian and French infantry against the German lines. The Germans were taken by surprise as they were unprepared and taken their front line was rolled back. They suffered over 42,000 casualties on the first day, and some 400 guns were lost. The Allies from now on developed a very skilful and intelligent strategy which saw them delivering a series of blows on part of the German lines and then on the other. This kept the Germans on the defensive, and they were unable to switch their reserves around fast enough to meet the swiftly changing alternating blows. The Germans were pushed all the way back to the Hindenburg line and the Allies were victorious. ...read more.

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