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Trench Warfare Research And Source Analysis

2535 words - 10 pages

Section 1a)Trench Warfare was a method of fighting the Germans were forced to employ against the French after the failure of the Schlieffen Plan. Count Alfred Von Schlieffen, a German military strategist developed a plan for the Germans to use if faced with a two front war. His plan involved encircling the French and taking Paris from behind in a quick and decisive victory on the Western Front. He would then move all his troops onto the Eastern Front with the use of the European railway system to fight Russia. The hammer swing encirclement plan failed and forced the Germans to retreat from French territory. Not wanting to lose the territory they had gained the Germans dug into trenches at the River Marne, which soon formed the stalemate on the Western Front.The nature of trench warfare is very attritionistic. Trench Warfare strategy was to strongly defend your own position and attack the enemy in an effort to reach the final lines. In doing the latter, the common sequence of events in a trench war is a mass military bombardment of shells followed by a charge or march of soldiers towards enemy lines. The bombardment was made to damage and at best destroy fortifications and cause as many casualties as possible. The infantry would then run through the artillery destroyed landscape and into the trenches where they would attack. This ideal plan of fighting was far from how the advances worked. This prototypical plan would have been effective if it was not for the advantage that the defending army had. An advance was laborious, costly in lives and only achieved minimal distance. The use of the machine gun made slashing actions by storm or shock troopers virtually impossible. If the defensive line broke; the defending army could bring in reserves through protected trenches much quicker than the attacking army could advance. The reasons behind this lies in the efficiency and reliability of Western Europe's railways and roads. The attacking side also had to find there way through the country wrecked by bombardment.The trenches on the Western Front consisted of deep, winding dugout channels. The trench systems of the Germans, stretched from the English Channel in the North, to the Swiss border in the South. Once the two sides were dug in, the war changed from a traditional war of movement into an alien war of position. The traditional units of horse cavalry, various war strategies and weaponry disappeared completely from the battle front and were replaced by a whole new way of battle.The Ross Rifle, Sawn-Off Shotgun and the British SMLE replaced traditional infantry weapons like revolvers and swords. These hand held weapons were developed to overcome the problems of jamming that happened in the muddy and dirty conditions of Trench Warfare. The need for concealable and accurate weaponry was essential; so the Periscope Rifle was used so a shot could be carefully fired from the cover of the trench. With trenches being a relatively temporary structure,...

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