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WORLD WAR I. Major Rascon. SOURCES. Jones, The Art of War in the Western World , pp. 434-488 Preston and Wise, Men In Arms , pp. 259-277 Weigley, American Way of War , pp. 192-222. LEARNING OBJECTIVES. Be familiar with the timeline and key events of the war

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Major Rascon


Jones, The Art of War in the Western World, pp. 434-488

Preston and Wise, Men In Arms, pp. 259-277

Weigley, American Way of War, pp. 192-222

learning objectives
  • Be familiar with the timeline and key events of the war
  • Describe the Schlieffen Plan
  • Describe how trench warfare evolved from the early part of the war through the German offensive in 1918
learning objectives4
  • List the new equipment introduced during the war and how it was employed
  • Be familiar with the Battle of Belleau Wood
  • Be familiar with the Treaty of Versailles and the end of the war
  • Numerous “limited wars”, but no dramatic developments between American Civil and First World Wars
  • 1870 Prussia defeats France
    • Both sides (especially French) learn the same lessons America learned in Civil War
      • Rifles mandate a change in tactics
      • Breach loaders facilitate fire and movement
      • Railway/Telegraph is key to victory
      • French bitter over loss of territory
  • 65 million combatants from 30 countries representing every continent
    • 29 million become casualties
  • Naval battles around the world and land battles in Europe, Africa, and Asia
  • Triple Alliance = Germany, Austria, Italy
    • +Turkey + Bulgaria - Italy = Central Powers
  • Entente Cordiale = Britain, France
    • + Russia + Italy + (later) US = Allied Powers
  • Revolutionary technology, but evolutionary tactics
road to war
  • Germany, Italy, Russia, Austro-Hungary all fairly recently “unified” with significant internal unrest
  • Germany seeks new markets/prestige of colonies
  • Massive arms race
  • Multiple and extensive alliances
  • June 28, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is assassinated in Sarajevo
  • July 28 Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia
  • August 1 Germany declares war on Russia
  • August 3 Germany declares war on France
  • August 4 Great Britain declares war on Germany
  • August 4 Germany invades neutral Belgium
  • August 26-30 German army achieves its greatest victory of the war on the Eastern front at the Battle of Tannenberg
  • September 5-10 First Battle of the Marne halts German invasion in France
  • September 15 First trenches of the Western front are dug
  • January 19, 1915 First German Zeppelin air raid on England
  • February 4 Germany declares a submarine blockade of Great Britain. Any boat approaching England is considered a legitimate target
  • April 22-May 5 Second Battle of Ypres marks first use of chemical weapons
  • April 25 Allies begin assault on Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey
  • May 7 Sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania
    • Killed 1200, 123 Americans
  • May 23 Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary
  • August 30 Germany responds to U.S. anger by ceasing to sink ships without warning
  • December 28 Allies begin withdrawal of troops from Gallipoli
  • February 21 - December 18, 1916 The longest battle of the war, the Battle of Verdun, is fought to a draw with an estimated one million casualties
  • July 1-November 18 The Battle of the Somme results in an estimated one million casualties and no breakthrough for the Allies
  • December 31 Russian Rasputin, is murdered by relatives of the Tsar
  • February 1, 1917 Germany again declares unrestricted submarine warfare
  • April 6 The United States declares war on Germany
  • July 6 T.E. Lawrence and the Arabs capture Aquaba
  • July 16-November 10 Third Battles of Ypres, known as Passchendaele, results in minor gains, but still no breakthrough
  • November 7 Bolshevik socialists, led by Lenin, overthrow Kerinsky government
  • December 3 The new Russian government, represented by Leon Trotsky, signs an armistice with Germany
  • December 9 British capture Jerusalem
  • January 8, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson declares his 14 points as the path to world peace
  • March 21 Germans launch the first of five major offensives to win the war before American troops appear in the trenches
  • April 25 British and Australian troops stop the German advance near Amiens
  • May 23 German shells land on Paris
  • August 8 Allied counteroffensives on the Somme push the German army back
  • September 29 Allied troops break through the German fortifications at the Hindenberg line
  • November 11 At eleven o'clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the war ends as Germany and Allies sign an Armistice
schlieffen plan
Schlieffen Plan
  • Germans want to finish off French before Russia is ready to fight
  • Germans believe French will immediately try to retake Alsace-Lorraine
  • Original plan called for economy of force on the left while heavily weighting the right flank
    • Von Moltke revised and distributed forces more evenly across the front
  • Plan failed when Germans were held up by Belgians, then stopped by French and British at the Battle of the Marne
    • Russians also mobilized more quickly than expected
  • Allies halt Central Powers; both sides dig in
  • No flanks for either side to attack
    • Barbed wire entanglements up to 150’ deep
  • Neither side gains more than 10 miles in over 2 years
  • Mass is supreme principle
    • Massed assaults
    • Massed fires
trench warfare
Trench Warfare
  • Machine gun and artillery make it difficult to attack a trench
  • Huge artillery preps make “No Man’s Land” virtually impassable
    • Huge casualties for attackers
trench warfare evolves
Trench Warfare Evolves
  • Laffargue writes pamphlet; French publish, but otherwise ignore it; Germans acquire copy and implement
  • Three group (squad) infiltration:
    • Squad one finds and fixes enemy
    • Squad two finds and exploits weak spots
    • Squad three supports two and exploits breaches
    • Strong points reduced later from rear/flanks
  • Combined arms:
    • grenades, machine guns, flame throwers in infantry squads
    • Arty fires smoke, gas, HE to keep defenders’ heads down
  • Maneuver warfare at the tactical level
ruthless tactics
  • Chemical warfare made trench warfare more horrible
  • Mustard/Blister agents deployed
  • First used on French in 1915
  • Brits introduce in Sept 1916
    • Means to cross No Man’s Land with protection from machine guns
    • Initially employed piecemeal and in too small numbers to be decisive
    • Unreliable and slow
  • Battle of Somme, Sept 1916
    • 36 of 60 tanks make it into battle
    • Scattered across 3 mile front
  • Cambria, Nov 1917
    • Used in mass (300 tanks)
    • Opened 12x6 mile front
  • Amiens, August 1918
    • 500 tanks, 13 infantry divisions, 2 cavalry divisions, 2000 artillery pieces, 800 aircraft

First modern “combined-arms” battle

  • New aspect of “Total War”
    • Targeting “neutral merchant” ships
  • Germans announce submarine blockade
    • Part physical, part psychological weapon
  • Draws Allied resources away from offensive operations
    • Civilian control of production
  • Sinking of ships with US passengers is major factor in US’s eventual entry into the war
aviation red baron
Aviation“Red Baron”
  • Used initially for reconnaissance/spotting
    • Wireless communication critical development in spotting
  • Arial combat originally a counter-reconnaissance function
  • Troops on the ground don’t like the planes overhead….
  • By the end of the war, planes were being used to drop bombs on railways, intersections, factories, etc…
battle for belleau wood
4 June 1918 Germans reach their “high water mark”, but are turned back by 5th Marines at Les Mares Farms, 50 miles from Paris

5 June 1918, 4th Marine Brigade (5th and 6th Regiments, 6th Machine Gun Battalion) enters Belleau Wood to stop German advance

French are retreating as Marines arrive

One Frenchman advises Marines to join the retreat, Capt Lloyd Williams replies “Retreat, hell, we just got here”

Marines begin picking off Germans at 800 yards (200 yds considered far to Germans)

Battle for Belleau Wood
belleau wood
Belleau Wood
  • Dan Daly: “Come on you sons of bitches. Do you want to live forever”
  • Marines fight until 16 June when an Army unit relieves them
  • 22 June Marines reenter fight
  • 26 June Major Shearer sends signal, “Woods are now entirely US Marine Corps.”
  • Victory was not the product of sound tactics, but of the discipline and determination of the Brigade
esprit de corps
Esprit de Corps

I believe they are soldiers from Montezuma, At least when they advanced this morning they were all singing “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli”

French soldier describing the Marines in Belleau Wood

Devil Dog title given to the Marines by German soldiers for their ferocious fighting

treaty of versailles
Treaty of Versailles
  • Big 4 meet in Paris
    • Woodrow Wilson
    • Lloyd George of Britain
    • Orlando of Italy
    • Clemenceau of France
  • Signed June 28, 1919
  • Ended War
  • re-established boundaries for Germany