Why did a stalemate develop on the Western Front?

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Steph Birnage 10L

History coursework – The First World War

Why did a stalemate develop on the Western Front?

        A stalemate is a situation where neither side can win. During the First World War, a stalemate developed between the Allies and the Germans on the Western Front.

        One reason why a stalemate developed on the Western Front was because the Schlieffen Plan failed. Before the invasion of Belgium, the British had been uncertain about joining the war, but Germany had invaded a neutral country and in 1839, Britain had guaranteed to defend Belgium because of their treaty in 1839. Germany failed to capture the ports at Dunkirk and Calais, and Britain declared war on the 4th of August 1914 and sent the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) of 100,000 men. The plan also failed because while the Germans expected Russia to mobilise after 6 weeks, they attacked Germany after only 16 days. There was fierce resistance from the Belgian army at Antwerp and Liège, and the Germans turned south too early and so did not encircle Paris. In addition the British army held up the Germans at Mons. Only ten per cent of the German army was left in Germany to fight Russia. The failure of the Schlieffen Plan led to a stalemate on the Western Front because not attacking Paris meant that they had to dig trenches in France, and trench warfare proved to be very difficult.

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Another reason why stalemate developed on the Western Front was that commanders on all sides failed to realise the importance of the new technology and weapons that had been developed. The machine gun, heavy artillery and barbed wire all made attacking very difficult, especially when there were no ways of transporting infantry quickly. In addition many commanders clung on to the idea of using cavalry as a way of breaking the deadlock for far too long, sending soldiers across No Man’s Land to attack the enemy trenches, resulting in the loss of many men. One of these new weapons was ...

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