War Of Attrition Essay

1179 words - 5 pages

World War 1 has been named the War to End all Wars, and with good reason. Thousands of lives were lost in the 4 year war and due to this; many have named WW1 a war of attrition. Attrition means ‘wearing down of the enemy’s strength’, and this is evident in many battles during the war. World War 1 involved combining new technology and 19th century tactics. Plans that were used were inflexible and often included cavalry. Tactics included bombarding the enemy with shells for a few days before attacking; meaning to kill the enemy and to cut wire but usually ended up only alerting the enemy that there was going to be an attack. Other tactics included running across no man’s land to get to the ...view middle of the document...

A British soldier described the pandemonium of a gas attack in the Front lines. [I watched] figures running wildly in confusion over the fields. Greenish-gray clouds swept down upon them, turning yellow as they travelled over the country blasting everything they touched and shrivelling up the vegetation. . . . Then there staggered into our midst French soldiers, blinded, coughing, chests heaving, faces an ugly purple colour, lips speechless with agony, and behind them in the gas soaked trenches, we learned that they had left hundreds of dead and dying comrades . This describes just how horrific and efficient the poison gas was, it was able to wipe out trenches that were unprepared. Gas masks were later introduced to protect soldiers from the deadly gas attacks.
1916 witnessed two of the most horrific battles of attrition in the Great War, which resulted in thousands of casualties for both the allies and the German armies. On February 21 1916, Germany launched an offensive against the fortified town of Verdun in France. The German Chief of Staff, General von Falkenhayn, decided to attack Verdun, which had become a symbol of defiance and national pride to the French people. The Germans intended to launch an attack to drain the enemy soldiers and ‘bleed France white’ . This German attack and the subsequent battle lasted for 300 days. The Germans used more artillery that had ever been used including flame-throwers for the first time. The battle started with a 21 hour German bombardment of the French trenches. They were supported by 1,400 large artillery guns that fired a million shells on the first day alone. Both sides used deadly gas bombs on a massive scale. In total, the Germans fired 23 million shells at the French. The loss of life for the French was huge at Verdun. An unknown French soldier describe the slaughter "An artery of French blood was spilt on February 21st and it flows incessantly in large spurts .” this referring to the amount of casualties accumulated through the first day of battle. The Germans also suffered huge losses. It is said that the French lost over 360,000 men and the Germans nearly 340,000. The battle of Verdun was the longest single battle of the war, and among the deadliest, with both sides casualties combined climbing to over 650,000 dead. In the end, the Germans had succeeded in bleeding the French white, but...

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