WWI 1914-1919 By Bryan Kay
The Battle of Verdun • Verdun was a military stronghold with thirteen concrete forts dug into the ground which made it one of the strongest French cities. However it was unknown that just months before its guns were taken out to be used elsewhere. • The Germans used 1,400 big guns and proceeded to blast 2 million shells on the first day. This allowed the Germans to capture the 1st within 2 days and the 2nd row within 1. • Although Verdun had no more military value ,the French Prime minister realized that losing the supposedly strongest city would be bad for morale and, against the advice of others, went ahead and went to protect Verdun • This defensive battle was led by General Philippe Petain who inspired the soldiers to fight this almost pointless battle by saying “Ils ne passeront pas” [They shall not pass]
The Battle of Verdun • Although they were ready to fight the battle supplies and resources were needed and the only one road was open into Verdun. The General made a decisive decision to stop all horse drawn carriages from being on the one open road which was a move that allowed the French to be able to win this battle. • The opening up of this road allowed convoys of resources to flood the city and help win the battle. The road, during the time of war, became nicknamed the Sacred Way. • The result of this battle was the Germans firing 23 million shells at the French, 315,000 French casualties and 282,000 German casualties. • All in all, although the Germans went through many resources they were unable to get through the Western Front.
The Battle of Somme • The Battle of Somme was the offensive battle of the French. • This started with a 5-day bombardment of the German trenches but the Germans had seen the advance of the French thanks to scouters, planes. • The German troops went back from the first trenches and made dug-outs more than 12 meters deep. • The French, unaware of the new accommodations of the German troops, sent 200,000 troops “over the top” [into the battlefield and not the trenches] • After a day of the French getting massacred what was left was bodies of the dead lying around, many caught in barbed wire in revolting positions. • The result of the first day was a death toll of 20,000 British and 35,000 wounded. By the end Britain and France lost 620,000 men and the Germans 450,000. The British never got past 15 kilometers. (around 9.3 miles)
Non-European Countries Join Japan Turkey Turkey was a desired ally by both sides. Turkey’s position was perfect for attacking Russia from the south as well as travel to and capture the Suez Canal with greater ease, the Suez is Britain's highway to the east. • Allied with Britain in 1902 and was helping by attack Germany’s far-eastern colonies. • Quickly captured Kaichow, Caroline and the Marshall Islands of the Pacific Ocean.
Turkey • Both countries Turkey’s favor by building up her military. Britain offered a giant superpower boat which was then not given. Turkey got annoyed and when Germany offered two of her war boats she accepted. • The ships in question were called Goeben and Breslau and the British chased them for a week at sea so Turkey would not get them. However, the ships out sped the French ships, at the cost of the lives of 4 coal stokers?. • The gift of the ships obliged Turkey to join the war.
Advancements of Warfare during WWI Trench Warfare- New Weaponry
Trench Warfare • A trench, as seen to the right, was usually 2 meters deep and in a zig-zag so explosions would only damage a section of the trench. • There were usually three rows of trenches with trenches in between to connect them. The lines were, the front line, what is shown on the right, the lines after are support trenches and behind those are reserve trenches. • The trenches in between trenches are also called communication trenches and some led to outposts and machine-gun nests.
Trench Warfare-Going over the Top • The term, going over the top, meant that troops were going to climb over the trenches and attempt to capture the enemy trenches. • Before one were to “go over the top”, the enemy trenches would be bombarded with heavy guns to kill front line troops and destroy barbed wire. • The shells were also highly unpredictable as seen by a first hand account when one shell could kill 7 people while just the previous day 400 shells rained from above and did no damage.
Conditions of the Trenches • Trench Foot, when a soldier spend more than days knee deep in water trench foot occurs. One’s feet swells up 2-3 times it size. However only when the swelling stop does the pain kick in and some people needed their leg or feet amputated. • Also there was a large amount of rodents, primarily rats, in these trenches. Due to the lack of hygiene maintenance lice was rampant.
New Weaponry- Heavy Artillery • Heavy Artillery, the “big guns”, shot explosive shells. • The main type of heavy artillery was the howitzer gun which could fire shells which went over 13 kilometers and split into metal splinters which pierced troops around the blast radius. The effects of this gun was horrifying in that it severed limbs from human bodies. • In 1915 around 400,000 of these exploding shells were used a month on the Western Front. The explosion also gave the soldiers near the explosion shell shock.
New Weaponry • Machine guns were not deemed important at the beginning of the war by the Allies. However the Germans realized the potential of the machine guns and rowed down rows and rows of enemy troops during the time they were reloading. • The tank, built in 1915, was built by a designer of farm machinery. The creation was an armor plated tractor with both canons and machine guns. The Germans fled after seeing tanks, which went right through almost every defense at the time.
New Weaponry • Although there were bayonets, the knives at the end of rifles, for close combat during trench fighting they were quite useless. This led to the mass-usage of hand grenades. • The British used the pineapple shaped Mills Bomb • Germans used stick like grenades called Potato Mashers. • Gas was one of the worst weapons used the World War. The 1st type of gas was chlorine glass which suffocated the victims and let them suffer searing nausea. Very painful death. Close to phosgene gas. • Mustard gas was another type of gas attack. It did not show effect immediately but slowly rotted the body. Skin blistered, eyes bulged and the lining of lungs were stripped bare. Called mustard gas due to distinctive orange smog. • Luckily in 1917 the gas mask was creating making gas an easily counter-able weapon.