Key Battles in the Attempt to Break the Stalemate Essay

Key Battles in the Attempt to Break the Stalemate: Verdun – 1916 Factors that brought about the battle Falkenhayn had hoped to ‘weaken’ the French forces by attacking Verdun, as Falkenhayen knew that the French would come cap in hand to defend Verdun. The town of Verdun had to strategic value for both Germany, and French. However, Verdun had symbolic importance, due to the great wars in the past. Aims of battle (how was it designed to break the stalemate)? * The war in Verdun had become a war of attrition.

This involved wearing down the enemy to a state of exhaustion. However, there were still attempts to break the stalemate. Examples of the attempts were: 1. On the Western Front both Allied and German generals still nursed visions of a dramatic breakthrough to end the deadlock. Between February 1916 and November 1918 a series of bloody campaigns was launched to achieve such a breakthrough.

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2. There were attempts to break the deadlock on the Western Front by launching attacks in other theatres of war, in the hope of weakening the enemy’s overall war capability. . Germany attempted to break the deadlock by launching its unrestricted submarine campaign, which aimed to starve Britain into submission. Britain pursued the same aim with its blockade of Germany. 4. There were efforts from various quarters to bring hostilities to an end by promoting peace negotiations. However, these efforts were not succeed. Preparations for battle * German had 1400 heavy guns, with the hope to draw the French to defend Verdun. * French General rotated 259 of France’s 330 divisions. Tactics or strategies used

Preparatory bombardment was when at the beginning of a battle an artillery barrage would take place for hours and sometimes days. The aim of this was to wipe out soldiers in enemy front line trenches as well as destroy those trenches. This would then be followed by waves of infantry attacking these trenches in case there were any enemy soldiers left. Infantry soldiers would then occupy the enemy trench and in this way, gain more land.

However, this tactic was flawed as enemy soldiers, like German soldiers did in the Somme and at Passchendaele, could go in to bunkers or take cover for the duration f the artillery barrage and once this barrage stopped, they could prepare themselves for the suspected oncoming infantry waves so any hope of a surprise attack was lost and essentially all this preparatory bombardment was destroy the terrain both armies were fighting on. Outcomes/result of battle * The town of Verdun was destroyed. * The Germans fired twenty-three million shells at the French positions. * The losses to the armies were 350 000 French and 330 000 German soldiers. * The Germans did not break the French resistance. What does the battle reveal about Allied or German military leadership?

The battle of Verdun revealed both strategic ideas and ideas that didn’t work in their favor on both the French and German sides. For example the Germans had hoped to weaken the French forces by attacking Verdun. This was because they knew the French would defend Verdun because of its importance in history. This was a well thought out plan on the Germans behalf. However, even though the plan to attack Verdun was a well thought out plan and quite smart, the French still won against the Germans. Was this battle a German victory? An Allied Victory? None? Explain your answer.

In the battle of Verdun, the German were not successful in what they set out to achieve. Instead the French won the battle with their smart thinking. The Germans had originally hope to weaken the French Army, with that they picked a small town that they knew was of great symbolic importance to the French. Verdun had no strategic value for Verdun. However, the Germans knew it was of great symbolic importance to the French. They knew the French would not give up Verdun. Key quotations/source support * “If you surrender Verdun, you will be cowards, cowards!

And you needn’t wait till then to hand in your resignation. If you abandon Verdun, I sack you all on the spot. ” – Prime Minister Briand’s comment to General Joffre The Somme – 1916 Factors that brought about the battle * The Somme offensive was needed to help the French and force the Germans to take pressure off Verdun. * Haig sought to achieve a breakthrough on the Somme to break the stalemate on the Western Front. * The attack on the Somme was designed to wear down the German defenders until, a few weeks later, the main breakthrough would be launched at Ypres in Belgium.

Aims of battles (how was it designed to break the stalemate) General Haig’s aim was to break through the German lines. However, after a few weeks Haig and his colleagues realised that they had no chance of achieving such a breakthrough. Preparations for battle Haig, Rawlinson and others in command believe that the pre-battle artillery barrage would be so effective that the troops would be able to simply walk across no-man’s land and take the German trenches. Rawlinson in fact gave the order that his men should walk towards the lines at 91 metre a minute with a one-minute interval between each battalion. Tactics/strategies used

The French entered the battle in a having learned a great deal since the fighting of 1914; small unit infantry tactics utilising numerous grenadiers teams. They had enjoyed relative success from the word go and had only to refine their tactical approach as the battle progressed. The British story is a less happy one infantry tactics were crude and relatively inflexible, placing a responsibility on keeping schedule and large unit, extended line formations. This was a real misuse of the new armies, who had had a fairly thorough & tactically sound training regime and were far from the hapless dupes they are often portrayed as.

Their abilities were demonstrated as the battle progressed; they successfully integrated & evolved French style tactics adding novelties such as night attacks. Tanks were used but had little impact. Outcomes/result of battle * Kitchener’s ‘new armies’, the volunteers of 1914, were virtually wiped out. * The British front line was advanced a mere 15 kilometers at its furthest extent. In many areas the ground gained was negligible. * In February 1917, after the battering on the Somme, the Germans withdrew to their newly completed Hindenburg Line of fortifications.

What does the battle reveal about Allied or German military leadership? The battle of the Somme once again showed the smart and strategic thinking that went into the battle. However, not all plans were successful for the Germans. Was this battle a German victory? An Allied Victory? None? Explain your answer Neither side really won. The British and French, who started the battle, won some ground, but it wasn’t much and their casualty rate was very high. The British ; French lost about 620,000 men; the Germans lost about 500,000. Key quotations/source support * “The men are in splendid spirits.

Several have said that they have never before been so instructed and informed of the operation before them. The wire has never been so well cut, nor the artillery preparation so thorough. I have personally seen all the corps commanders and one and all are full of confidence” – Laffin, J, British Butchers and Bunglers of World War I, Sutton, Gloucester UK, 1988 Passchendaele – 1917 Factors that brought about the battle The attack at Passchendaele was Sir Douglas Haig’s attempt to break through Flanders. Haig had thought about a similar attack in 1916, but the Battle of the Somme occupied his time in that year.

However, one year later, Haig felt able to launch such an attack. His main aim was a breakthrough to the coast of Belgium so that German submarine pens could be destroyed. Aims of battle (how was it designed to break the stalemate) * In October 1915 an Allied force landed at Salonika in order to assist Serbia. The force was defeated but clung to Salonika. In late 1918 this base was used for an eventually successful invasion of Bulgaria. * Allied forces attacked Turkish forces in the Middle East but it was not until late 1917 that these campaigns bore fruit when Baghdad and Jerusalem were captured.

Preparations of battle Encouraged by the unusually high German losses during the Battle of Broodseinde and reports of lowered German morale, Haig sought quickly to renew the Allied offensive and secure Passchendaele Ridge, as he believed that the German forces opposite Ypres were close to collapse. Tactics/strategies used The line of strategy was to create vulnerability in the German lines, continue to the Belgian coast and capture the German submarine bases on the coastline. If won, it would have been a defining battle, opening corridor strategically significant area of the front.

It also would have taken some of the pressure off the French defence forces. Outcomes/results of battle Allied casualties reached almost a quarter of a million men, with around the same figure lost by the Germans. Up to 95,000 British or Australian men remained unidentified, while another 42,000 bodies were never recovered. What does the battle reveal about Allied or German military leadership The battle of Passchendaele once again showed the smart and strategic thinking that went into the battle. However, not all plans were successful for the Germans. Was this a German victory? An Allied Victory?

None? Explain your answer The Canadian Army captured Passchendaele in the Third Battle of Ypres. The Allies lost half a million casualties and the Germans lost at least a quarter of a million casualties so neither side could claim much of a victory. Key quotations/source support * “Here was a concise and accurate assessment of the British predicament and an equally concise solution to it: Sit tight and wait for the Americans. But Haig had no intention of sharing ‘glory’ of victory with the untried Americans” – Laffin, J, British Butcher Bungler of World War I, Sutton, Gloucester UK, 1988


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