In this piece of work I will be exploring the events between the start of the world war and Christmas 1914 and I’ll be looking on how the stalemate developed. With the Schlieffen plan a wash at the onset of the war and the resulting “race to the sea” leaving the opposing sides on an unending series of trench-building marathons until they were lined up from the Alps in the south to the North Sea in the north.
With the complete and almost idiotic reasoning of high command to send wool-clad men against well-protected, well-sighted, machine-guns, barbed wire and later armoured barbed-wire, heavy artillery, and long-range accurate rifle fire the life span of a soldier was measured in seconds during some battles. With the defence heavy technologies of the time coupled with lack of innovation and advancement by the offense side the battles that may last for months having huge losses and maybe yards are the only gains.
Germany in Belgium
Germany aim was to attack France and pull them out of the War because by doing this Germany think they would have won the war in a midst of a couple of months. Germany couldn’t go straight through France because heavily allies defended the Franco-German borders. The Schlieiffen plan had to be put to work. Germany thought they will be able to march through Belgium and Luxembourg to quickly knock France out of the war; they have done it before they will do it again.
They would think that Russia would take time mobilise; it was an all-or-nothing gamble.
The main route through Belgium would be through the flat plains of Flanders; 34 divisions would be use to march through Belgium and 8 divisions would be used to hold back the German advance from the German borders. The main place that German was aiming for was Paris; if Paris was surrounded France would have been able to fight back but wouldn’t have success. German knew that Russia could take up to 6 weeks to mobilise their army and Germany knew that they had 6 weeks to go through Belgium to get to France.
The only problem with the Schlieffen was that Germany depended on the action of the other four countries (France, Russia, Britain and Russia). If the Schlieffen plan was not followed all hell would break lose. Germany marched into Belgium but Germany was not so lucky because Belgium gathered all there soldiers and try to stop the German advance. The Belgium’s knew that Germany was twice their size but they put up a resistance from there frontier forts which was bombed by Germans.
Belgium had hide themselves in underground tunnels were they waited for the German but the Germans had bomb these tunnels killing many Belgium soldiers. But this brought time for the British and French Army to mobilise. The Battle of Mons The British Expeditionary Force deployed in the fields of Belgium, led by Sir John French. The BEF moved into position in front of Mons creating a line along the Mons-Condi?? Canal, they were just to the left of the French fifth Army. The BEF dug in along the side of the Mons Canal awaiting the advancing Germans, who were marching through Belgium following the Schlieffen Plan.
After the defeat earlier by the Germans General Charles Lanrezac, asked French to hold their position along the canal for 24 hours while French and the BEF fell back. On the 23rd August the BEF were attacked by the German first Army. The German Infantry were advance was repelled by the British Infantry, the sustained a very large losses; almost 1600 British Soldiers were killed and wounded. But with the French Plan 17 abandoned the French force retreated to defend Paris but found that Germany were in Paris they tried their hardest to push Germany back.
British also had no other alternative but to retreat as well. If the French had hold their position along the canal they may have been able to push the German advance back and not lose so many soldiers, they may have been able to defeat German. But Germany may have brought more troops in from Germany. The Battle of Marne The French were on defensive in September 1914 but the German were not doing well either. The German Supreme Moltke had to pull out 100,000 troops from the army advance from Paris because they found out that Russia had mobilise quicker than supposed to and had already invaded Germany.
This was proved that the British and French were needed. Another problem that had sprung up within the German force was that their advance had been so fast that their food and ammunition couldn’t keep up. The German soldiers were unfed and really exhausted. The German commander, Von Kluck couldn’t go round Paris as it was planned because the further they get away from their border line the less supply that would be about to get to them. So they decided to advance straight towards it.
While the German Advanced on no other choice that foot, the French diverted troops to Paris by railway and then they were put on the front, some of them were transported by taxi. The Germany army couldn’t hold it any longer they were weary and overstretched. British and French forces combined were able to stop the German army along the River Marne. The British and the French had counter attacked and pushed the Germans back to the river Aisne, but they couldn’t drive them out of France entirely. The Race to the Sea
The Battle of Marne was a turning point, for all 3 countries. The best known Plan (Schlieffen) had failed and Germany was caught up in a two-front war. The German general realised that they couldn’t break through the enemy lines; Moltke was replaced by commander Falkenhayn who decided the best way to get to your enemy lines was to outflank them his enemy lines. The German were digging in to guard themselves from the advancing allies. The charge went on 12th October. This became the race to the sea. The Germans charged west towards to the sea.
Each army tried to outflank the other to achieve the benefit, the British and French moved troops to block the Germans whenever it seems like they are about to attempted to break through. The First Battle of Ypres The battle of Ypres was in Belgium, this was one of the key battles in the race to the sea. Still trying to break through each others trench line, from the 12th October to 11th November 1914 the BEF lost around 50,000 men and the Germans lost around 100,000; but the British held the important ground-they kept the control of the English Channel Ports which meant they could be supplied with equipments and reinforcements.
By November 1914 there was a deadlock, the BEF had been slaughtered. The French had already suffered around 1 million dead or wounded in just 10 weeks. Despite all this happenings, the French army tried to break through the German lines in Artois and Champagne in December but they were beaten badly back with heavy losses. As 1914 ends, the fighting had reach stalemate which was to last until 1918. Digging Trenches The reason of why trenches were built was to prove them cover from their enemy snipers and shell bombs.
Trenches stretched from the sea (the English Channel) to the west of the Alps in Switzerland this was known has the “Western Front. ” The trenches were dug at seven feet deep and six feet wide, they had to put it in a zigzag pattern to prevent the enemy from shooting in a straight line. The space between the opposing on the Western Front was between 100 and 300 yards apart. On the Eastern Front and Middle East the areas on the battlefield was too vast and the distance from the factory that sells shells, bullets, concrete and barbed wire was so great that the trench warfare in the European style was not eventuate.
There were three standard ways to dig a trench: entrenching, sapping and tunnelling. Entrenching, where a man would stand on the surface and dig downwards, was most efficient as it allowed a digging party to dig the length of the trench simultaneously. However, entrenching left the diggers exposed above ground and hence could only be carried out when free of observation such as in a rear area or at night. Sapping involved extending the trench by digging away at the end face.
The diggers were not exposed but only one or two men could work on the trench at a time. Tunnelling was like sapping except that a “roof” of soil was left in place while the trench line was established then removed when the trench was ready to be occupied. The guidelines for British trench construction stated that it would take 450 men 6 hours (at night) to complete 250 metres of a front line trench system. Thereafter the trench would require constant maintenance to prevent deterioration caused by weather or shelling. Types of Weapons
The types of weapons used in 1914 were things like machine guns which could cause a lot of damage and kill soldiers in the open, they could fire up to 600 bullets a minute, machine guns were deemed to be a mass destruction. Artillery was the new and upgraded cannon they could fire up to 170 million shells in that time. But the Germans have different plans, the German Scientist have been planning the biggest artillery ever known, its name was “Big Bertha” it was so powerful it can fire at the heart of Paris from 120 kilometres away. The shells were also upgraded.
Instead of the ordinary shells, they had high-explosive shells which were thin casing and full of tiny lead pellets. This was so effective that it killed hundreds and thousands of men; it also blew of the ground which made hiding more difficult for the soldiers. Gas Grenades were very effective weapon; they were highly toxic and could kill someone in a instant. There were 3 main gas grenades. The first was Chlorine gas which was used in the Battle of Ypres, the second Phosgene gas and the third was Mustard gas. This burned the lungs of the inhaler leaving them to die in agony.
Gas masks were issued to everyone in the country, but they weren’t so useful and many people died. Transportation greatly increased, as more troops were needed at battlefields and other places. British forces used everything from trains to Lorries and even taxis. They transported 500 men in 1914; 250 taxis took the reserve troops to the Battle of Marne and thousands of lorries were used to transport troops to Verdun in 1916. Tanks were known as ‘The Chariots of God’ at First, they were giant blocks of metal that could carry 1-2 personnel and travelled at about 5 kilometres per hour.
But scientists and developers kept making new and improved tanks and by 1918 the Anglo-American Mark 8th could carry up to 8 men, and at the same time fire 208 shells and up to 13,000 bullets. Although these beasts were powerful, they were not so reliable. Most broke down and a good example is the battle of Amiens. The British sent 525 tanks, and after four days, only 25 were left in working order. Rolls Royce also joined in the development of these tanks, by building their own armoured car! It could travel up to 88 kilometres and had 8mm machine guns.
Planes were the new types of weapons use in advanced technological warfare. They had everything from mini scout planes to huge blimp like bombers called Zeppelins. Air warfare was not seen as important as any other type so it did not have its own category. Conclusion I think Germany invading Belgium is the most responsible for the stalemate, because if German hadn’t invaded Belgium they wouldn’t have gone through a series of Battles. German trust a plan that was made quite sometime ago which relied of the actions on the other countries around them which may have been different like it was.
But if Belgium just let Germany thorough there country then Germany could have captured Paris quickly enough and kicked them out of the war and the war may have been finished by Christmas. But one different move may have changed the whole history of this from a 4 year war to a 5 months war. I think because of the actions of both Germany and Belgium the war was at stalemate. Belgium was a neutralised country they weren’t on any side so there wouldn’t have been a problem with German forces marching through their country?