Casualties Of World War I Essay

924 words - 4 pages

The First World War witnessed an appalling number of casualties. Due partly to this fact, some historians, developed the perception that commanders on both sides dependence on only one disastrous approach to breaking the stalemate. These historians attributed the loss of life to the reliance on soldiers charging across no-man’s land only to be mowed down by enemy machineguns. The accuracy of this, however, is fallacious since a variety of tactics existed on both sides. The main reason for battlefield success and eventual victory came from the transformation of battlefield tactics; nevertheless, moral played a major role by greatly affecting the development of new tactics and the final outcome of the war.
Tactics during the early stages of the war led to the massacre of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and a huge loss in moral. Originally the Allies employed Napoleonic Era tactics that relied heavily on infantry lined up shoulder to shoulder and advances across open fields. The French further claimed that by attacking with superior moral they could overcome any foe. However, enormous casualties resulted from these tactics due to the widespread utilization of machine guns and long-range rifles. The French and British, as well, continued to funnel soldiers into failed offensives, even if the battle resulted in little or no gains, further led to a decline in moral. With thousands of soldiers’ dead, the armies could not continue to fight with these tactics or the armies would cease to exist or the refusal by soldiers to continue fighting.
When Allied soldiers began to refuse to return to the front lines their officers in response made compromises to retain what little moral still lingered, because if they failed the Germans’ could possibly overrun allied positions. Initially, officers attempted to reason with the soldiers to keep them on the front lines. These officers claimed that the German’s would subjugate France to a similar punishment that Russia received in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The soldiers concurred with their officers and agreed to return to the front lines (Smith 190). The French High Command, however, did not value the treatment of enlisted men as equals and order the executions of a number of the mutineers. The French Command, also, decided that the prudent decision to stop impending mutinies would be the ending of “on any new large-scale offensive” (Smith 195). With the comprehension that moral could collapse further the Allies turned to a handful of new tactics to minimize the number of deaths that occurred.
From observations from the battlefield and experimentation the Allies developed a number of tactics that allowed them to gain substantially more ground than in the past while reducing the number of casualties. To reduce wastage, the number of soldiers killed during a normal day, the French adopted the use of “difeme en profondeur...

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