All over by Christmas



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World war I

General facts about the war
*All of the participants was expecting a short war(”all over by Christmas”).

*Germany was keen on beating France rapidly therefore the Schlieffen plan.

*But Paris doesn’t fall and a stalemate develops on the western front(this is when the trench warfare starts).This continues for several years.
*By december 1917 the Germans has forced the russians out of the war and the germans are causing heavy losses to the british with their submarine attacks

*The help from the U.S (april 1917) does make a difference to this war. The germans run out of means and are exhausted and an ceasefire is signed in november 1918.


The western front 1914-(main events)
*The point with the Schlieffen-plan(august 1914) was to take over France and avoid a twofront-war.The Germans got as far as twenty miles of Paris but then it stopped.Mainly it had to do with lack of food and supplies. In september the german forces were driven back to the river Aisne(The battle of the Marne) were they started to dig trenches.

  1. *Battle of the Marne: 6-10 September 1914


The First Battle of the Marne marked the end of the German sweep into France and the beginning of the trench warfare that was to characterise World War One.

Germany's grand Schlieffen Plan to conquer France entailed a wheeling movement of the northern wing of its armies through central Belgium to enter France near Lille. It would turn west near the English Channel and then south to cut off the French retreat. If the plan succeeded, Germany's armies would simultaneously encircle the French Army from the north and capture Paris.

A French offensive in Lorraine prompted German counter-attacks that threw the French back onto a fortified barrier. Their defence strengthened, they could send troops to reinforce their left flank - a redistribution of strength that would prove vital in the Battle of the Marne. The German northern wing was weakened further by the removal of 11 divisions to fight in Belgium and East Prussia. The German 1st Army, under Kluck, then swung north of Paris, rather than south west, as intended. This required them to pass into the valley of the River Marne across the Paris defences, exposing them to a flank attack and a possible counter-envelopment.

On 3 September, Joffre ordered a halt to the French retreat and three days later his reinforced left flank began a general offensive. Kluck was forced to halt his advance prematurely in order to support his flank: he was still no further up the Marne Valley than Meaux.

On 9 September Bülow learned that the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was advancing into the gap between his 2nd Army and Kluck. He ordered a retreat, obliging Kluck to do the same. The counterattack of the French 5th and 6th Armies and the BEF developed into the First Battle of the Marne, a general counter-attack by the French Army. By 11 September the Germans were in full retreat.

This remarkable change in fortunes was caused partially by the exhaustion of many of the German forces: some had marched more than 240km (150 miles), fighting frequently. The German advance was also hampered by demolished bridges and railways, constricting their supply lines, and they had underestimated the resilience of the French.

In saving Paris from capture by pushing the Germans back some 72km (45 miles), the First Battle of the Marne was a great strategic victory, as it enabled the French to continue the war. However, the Germans succeeded in capturing a large part of the industrial north east of France, a serious blow. Furthermore, the rest of 1914 bred the geographic and tactical deadlock that would take another three years and countless lives to break.(Taken partially from BBC:s world war one web page)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/

*After this battle their is something called ”the race to the sea”.This was when both sides tried to outflank each other to the north.The most fierce battles during this race was the first battle of Ypres where the germans tried agressively to break through to the channel ports.Through fierce resistance the germans were hold back and the stalemate continued.

*Why was there a stalemate?(”modern world history”)

-Barbed wire in no-mans land which took away the chanches of surprise attacks.

-Aircrafts could spot quite easily the trenches but the accuracy of the aircrafts were not that good.

-Trenches were hard to take over since the machine-guns were in use.

          1. *This is according to Daily Mirror in april 1915(second battle of Ypres)
          2. Germans gain ground near Ypres by using asphyxiating gas

Berlin claims Yser Canal is forced and 1,600 prisoners taken

Allies advance in big counter-attack - 'French troops had to retire overwhelmed by fumes,' says Sir J French
          1. Hun's Long Preparation of Forbidden Devices

By using asphyxiating gas fumes the Germans north of Ypres have forced back French troops to the Yser Canal near Boesinghe.

Though Berlin claims sweeping successes in the fighting that ensued, Sir John French last night reported that 'our front remains intact except on the extreme left' and the French communiqué states that the enemy's surprise attack 'has had no grave consequences'.

Berlin's claim is that the Germans forced a passage across the Yser Canal, that Langemarck and three other places were captured, and that 1,600 French and British prisoners with 30 guns fell into German hands.

Even in the short time at their disposal the Allies have retaliated and a vigorous counter-attack has developed successfully.

An official telegram from Berlin says: 'The Admiralty Staff states that recently the German High Sea Fleet has repeatedly been cruising in the North Sea, and has advanced into English waters, without meeting any British naval force.'

The bombardment of the Dardanelles forts has been resumed, and the transports of the Expeditionary Force have arrived in the Gulf of Saros.


          1. Gas Fumes that Drove Back Our Ally

Sir J French Reports that British Had to Re-adjust Line to New Front

Sir John French last night communicated the following, dated yesterday: Yesterday (Thursday) evening the enemy developed an attack on the French troops on our left in the neighbourhood of Bixschoote and Langemarck, on the north east of Ypres salient. This attack was preceded by a heavy bombardment, the enemy at the same time making use of a large number of appliances for the production of asphyxiating gases. The quantity produced indicates long and deliberate preparation for the employment of devices contrary to the terms of the Hague Convention, to which the enemy subscribed.

The false statement made by the Germans a week ago to the effect that we were using such gases is now explained. It was obviously an effort to neutralise criticism in advance.

During the night the French had to retire from the gas zone, overwhelmed by the fumes. They have fallen back to the canal in the neighbourhood of Boesinghe.

Our front remains intact except on the extreme left where the troops have had to readjust their line in order to conform with the new French line. Two attacks were delivered during the night on our trenches east of Ypres and were repulsed.

Fighting still continues in the region north of Ypres.

This (Friday) morning one of our aviators, during the course of a reconnaissance which he completed successfully, damaged a German aeroplane and forced it to descend. Our Flying Corps also brought down another German machine about Messines.


*To summarize this battle(the second battle of Ypres) one could say that the germans tried to capture Ypres by using massive firearms. Also chlorinegas was used in order to suprise their enemy.This was also what happened. All in all no great advances were made only big losses. The german losses were close to 40% when the brittish were a bit over 60%.

*The battle of Verdun takes place in february in 1916. This was the the bigggest offensive made by the germans so far.This can be seen as the longest and bloodiest battle of the war. The battle ends in autumn and has the same outcome as so many other battles.No practical advance made but instead many injured and dead.Germans approx.350.000, french approx 400.000 dead.




July 1 - November 28, 1916


The Battle of the Somme was the largest all out offensive planned by the British against the German Army up to this point in First World War. The mastermind of the offensive was Lt.. Gen sir Douglas Haig, who had previously been in command of the B.E.F. 1st Corps and had recently been promoted to commader of all British forces on the western front. The main responsibility of the offensive fell to the the 4th Army under Gen. Sir Henry Rawlinson.

Lt. Gen. Sir Douglas Haig, Mastermind of the Somme Offensive

Haig's plan called for a massive artillery barrage that was to knock out all German resistance along an 18 mile long section of the front. He employed the use of 1,500 British guns backed by almost the same amount of French artillery. As the barrage commenced, British infantry would flood into the front line trenches in preparation to advance on the broken German front. The barrage was set to begin on the June 24, 1916. Following the taking of the German lines, the British would then sweep through to Cambrai and Douai, breaking the German line in two.

The massive barrage began on schedual at pounded the German lines for seven days non stop. However, the British lacked high explosive shells in their arsenal at the time and the concussion shells used did little damage to the German trenches and barbed wire tangles which went unnoticed by the British high command. The Germans remained in their dug outs for the duration of the barrage, quite safe from the artillery.



British Troops on the way to the Somme Front, 1916



At 7:00 AM on July 1st, zero hour, the barrage lifted and the infantry were ordered over the top. The British were confident that the barrage had all but wiped out the German defenders and that they would find only empty trenches across no man's land. The British units, advanced in close order, bayonets fixed, towards the German lines. As the first units of the B.E.F. got into the middle of no man's land, German machine gun nests sprung up to meet them.

British Machine Gun Crew in Phosgene Helmets



The British idea of a quick victory faded quickly as regiment after regiment fell before the German machine guns. Soon the German artillery joined in the attack. Many British regiments were killed still at their starting points, never making it out of their trenches. The 1st Lancashire Fusiliers and several other regiments from the 29th Division, were pinned down in a sunken road halfway to the German lines and were subsequently shot to pieces by the German machine guns. Only a handful of British soldiers managed to actually make it to the barbed wire tangles and even fewer to the German front line itself. By the end of the first day, the British had lost 60,000 men on the assault. Among the units decimated during the first day of the battle was the 36th Ulster Division, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment, which had actually made it to the German wire tangles, the 10th Battalion West Yorkshires, which got into the German trenchline and was surrouned and oblitereated, and the 1st Essex Regt.

British Troops Going Over the Top, First Day of the Somme, 1916



Gen. Haig was still confident that the battle would succeed as long as the British infantry kept pressure on the Germans despite the mounting losses.The battle rage on for weeks. The French gained small amounts of land on the southern section of the line but the gains overall were minimal. On September 25, the British again tried a large scale assault on the German lines with the same consequences. However, the British had managed to move somewhat in the north allowing them to take Beaumont-Hamel in mid November.

Tending to the Wounded on the Somme Front, 1916

By the end of November, the Somme Front had stabilized. The battle was considered over by November 28 and by this point had claimed 420,000 casualites for the British, 195,000 for the French, and 650,000 for the Germans trying to stop them. Gen. Haig finally gave into pressure from his subordinates and acknowleged the offensive's failure. There would be no significant actions on this front again until late 1917.



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