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World War I Western Front A New Style of Warfare


Tanks were used for the first time in the First World War at the Battle of the Somme. ... men in the British Army were wounded during the First World War. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: World War I Western Front A New Style of Warfare

World War I - Western FrontA New Style of Warfare
  • American History
  • Unit II- Foreign Affairs
  • Chapter 21 Section 2
  • The Western Front

10th American HistoryUnit II- U.S. Foreign
AffairsReading Quiz for Chapter 21 Sect. 2
  • 1. What was life like in trench?
  • 2. Name three new types of weapons of WWI.
  • 3. What was Shell Shock?
  • 4. Who was losing early in WWI?
  • 5.Before the war was over soldiers killed on both
    sides would number how many?
  • 6. If Germany was winning in 1918, what changed
  • 7. What is the AEF and who was its leader?
  • 8. What was the bad mistake that German generals
    and their emperor made?

Total War and Slaughter
Total War on the Western Front
  • In the spring of 1915 the trenches along the
    western front were filled with millions of
    soldiers, at the average rate of one soldier per
    four inches of trench. The job behind the front
    lines was to keep the men fed, equipped and ready
    to continue the fighting until the end
    came.Since both sides targeted both civilians
    and military personnel, and mobilized men and
    resources at an unprecedented rate, the Great War
    was a "total war.
  • This total war effected the lives of many
    different people
  • in some communities unprecedented casualty rates
    especially among young officers stripped young
    women of all their male contemporaries
  • West African soldiers were shipped in from the
    colonies to fight in the trenches
  • brave Englishwomen traded other jobs for more
    dangerous jobs in weapons factories. Everyone was
    affected. T
  • he first genocide of the 20th century -- the
    ultimate form of total war against civilians --
    was also part of this conflict. Over the next two
    years the Armenian population of Ottoman Turkey
    was uprooted and expelled to the desert regions
    of Mesopotamia. In the process between 500,000 to
    one million Armenians where killed or died of
    exposure or disease.

Slaughter on the Western Front
  • Impersonal killing- Hand to hand, sword, rifle,
    machine gun, bomb and airplane
  • 1914- each side lost a 1/2 million men
  • 1915- British and French advance was less than 3
    miles anywhere. France lost 1.5 million men
  • In early 1916, the British had over 1 million men
    in Belgium and France, while the French and
    German armies had re-supplied their front line
    troops. The stage was set for both sides to try
    to make the breakthrough on the battlefield that
    would assure each victory. By 1916s end, both
    sides would lose nearly one million men with very
    little change in position of the front line
  • 1916 Battle of the Somme- 5 months. Germans lost
    over 600,000 men. 20,000 British soldiers died
    in one day.
  • Before the end of the war over 10 million men
    would die on both sides. Another 10 million
    civilians from disease, starvation, and
  • 1918- German trenches were 50 miles from Paris,
    the German hope was to reach Paris and defeat the
    French before the Americans came into the war.

American Expeditionary Force (AEF)
  • May 1918
  • Doughboys-The name may have come from the large
    brass buttons on the uniforms of Union soldiers
    in the Civil War they were said to resemble
    doughboys, a flour dumpling cooked in soup
  • 2nd and 3rd Divisions fight at Belleau Wood and
    Chateau-Thierry. Argonne Forest.
  • 85,000 American help save Paris
  • General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing has an army
    of 1/2 million on the Southern Front.
  • Oct. 1918- Battle of Sedan- American Victory.
    British and French Lines begin to advance.
  • German mistake- Americans were late but made a
  • U.S. lost 50,280 men, and 25,000 to disease.
    42,000 Black troop fought in French units.
  • Russia, England and France lost over 4 million
    total. 1 million other countries.
  • Armistice- November 11, 1918- 11th hour, 11th day
    of the 11th month.

Slaughter on the Western Front
  • Battle of Verdun - 1916, became for the French
    what Gettysburg is for Americans.The goal of the
    German commander was not territory, but to bleed
    his enemy to death. The battle lasted nine months
    and in the end the front lines were nearly the
    same, while over 300,000 French and Germans were
    killed and over 750,000 were wounded.
  • Battle of the Somme, where another million died.
    The battle also saw the introduction of the tank.
    42 British tanks. The British fired 1.5 million
    rounds of artillery shells at the Germans in the
    5 month battle. The opening barrage could be
    heard in England. For every yard of the 18 mile
    front there were two British casualties. 420,000
    British casualties and 1.3 million total in the
  • As the slaughter continued with no significant
    gains in territory by either side, the men in the
    trenches kept their sanity by using music,
    theater and trench newspapers to replicate the
    world they left behind.
  • The first Battle of the Marne took place between
    5th and 11th September, 1914. The French 6th
    Army came close to defeat and were only saved by
    the use of Paris taxis to rush 6,000 reserve
    troops to the front line. During the battle, the
    French had around 250,000 casualties. Although
    the Germans never published the figures, it is
    believed that Geman losses were similar to those
    of France. The BEF lost 12,733 men during the
    battle. The .
  • The second major battle close to the River Marne
    took place during the summer of 1918. Over 85,000
    American soldiers took part in the battle. The
    German attack on the Marne was launched on 15th
    July. The Germans failed to break through. This
    included 24 divisions of the French Army, and
    soldiers from the United States, Britain and
    Italy. Allied casualties during the 2nd Battle of
    the Marne were heavy French (95,000), British
    (13,000) and United States (12,000). It is
    estimated that the German Army suffered an
    estimated 168,000 casualties and marked the last
    real attempt by the Central Power to win WWI.

World War I Casualties
  • Allies
  • Belgium 45,550
  • British Empire 942,135
  • France 1,368,000
  • Greece 23,098
  • Italy 680,000
  • Japan 1,344
  • Montenegro 3,000
  • Portugal 8,145
  • Romania 300,000
  • Russia 1,700,000
  • Serbia 45,000
  • United States 116,516
  • Central Powers
  • Austria-Hungary 1,200,000
  • Bulgaria 87,495
  • Germany 1,935,000
  • Ottoman Empire 725,000
  • Total Casualties
  • 65 million mobilized both sides
  • 8.5 million killed
  • 21 million wounded
  • 7.7 million POWs and missing
  • 37million total casualties
  • 57 of all men mobilized

Weapons of World War I
  • The main weapon used by British soldiers in the
    trenches was the bolt-action rifle. 15 rounds
    could be fired in a minute and a person 1,400
    meters away could be killed.
  • The single-shot, bigger-bore rifle was the
    subject of extensive research and development in
    the latter portion of the nineteenth century,
    with the result that the major powers introduced
    new models that were small-bore, bolt-action
    weapons capable of firing multiple rounds from a
    spring-loaded clip inserted into a rifle

Rifles, Bayonets and Hand guns
  • Veterans of the Great War, when interviewed,
    tended to play down the impact of the bayonet
    during the war. Many remarked (partly in jest)
    that the bayonet was used primarily as a splendid
    means of toasting bread, and for opening cans, to
    scrape mud off uniforms, poking a trench brazier
    or even to assist in the preparation of communal
  • In essence a bayonet is simply a simply a blade
    that is attached to the barrel of a rifle for use
    in close combat.
  • Most bayonets were of simple design, of the knife
    variety, although variations existed. For example
    the French devised a needle blade for use on
    Lebel rifles. Notoriously, the German army
    produced a 'saw-back' blade that, as its name
    suggests, gave the appearance of a saw with its
    double row of teeth on the back edge.
  • One advantage of using a bayonet in close crowded
    combat, as opposed to a rifle or handgun, was its
    avoidance of risk in injuring one's fellow
    soldiers. A bullet fired at close range into an
    enemy could well pass through his body and enter
    a friend standing (or fighting) behind him.

There was undeniably psychological value to the
infantry in carrying a bayonet, even if in
practice it was seldom used. Bayonets continued
to be commonly issued in the Second World War.
Hand guns
  • The pistol, originally designed as a cavalry
    weapon, was the staple weapon for a variety of
    personnel during World War One (and beyond).
    Traditionally issued to officers of all armies
    the pistol was also issued to military police,
    airmen and tank operators.
  • Reasons for Pistol Use
  • For men involved in the latter professions the
    pistol was essentially the only weapon that would
    serve under their unique environments the
    cramped conditions of both the tank and aircraft
    dictated that the rifle - which was otherwise
    issued to virtually all regular soldiers - was
  • Three Basic Types
  • When war began there were three types of pistol
    in general use revolvers, clip-loaded automatics
    and the so-called 'blow-back' models (where
    expanding propellant gas caused the gun to reload
    by forcing the bolt back when fired).

German Luger
Colt 45
Machine Gun
  • Machine guns, usually positioned on a flat
    tripod, would require a gun crew of four to six
    operators. They had the fire-power of 100 guns.
  • The 1914 machine gun, in theory, could fire
    400-600 small-caliber rounds per minute, a figure
    that was to more than double by the war's end,
    with rounds fed via a fabric belt or a metal

Machine Gun
  • The reality however was that these early machine
    guns would rapidly overheat and become
    inoperative without the aid of cooling
    mechanisms they were consequently fired in short
    rather than sustained bursts. Cooling generally
    took one of two forms water cooled and,
    increasingly as the war developed, air cooled.
    Water jackets would be provided for the former
    (which held around one gallon of liquid) and air
    vents would be built into the machine gun for the
  • Water cooled machine guns would still overheat
    relatively quickly (sometimes within two
    minutes), with the consequence that large
    supplies of water would need to be on hand in the
    heat of a battle - and, when these ran out, it
    was not unknown for a machine gun crew to solve
    the problem by urinating into the jacket.
  • Whether air or water cooled, machine guns still
    jammed frequently, especially in hot conditions
    or when used by inexperienced operators.
    Consequently machine guns would often be grouped
    together to maintain a constant defensive

Poison Gas
  • Considered uncivilized prior to World War One,
    the development and use of poison gas was
    necessitated by the requirement of wartime armies
    to find new ways of overcoming the stalemate of
    unexpected trench warfare.
  • First Use by the French
  • Although it is popularly believed that the German
    army was the first to use gas it was in fact
    initially deployed by the French. In the first
    month of the war, August 1914, they fired
    tear-gas grenades (xylyl bromide) against the
    Germans. Nevertheless the German army was the
    first to give serious study to the development of
    chemical weapons and the first to use it on a
    large scale
  • Country Casualties Deaths
  • Austria-Hungary 100,000 3,000
  • British Empire 188,706 8,109
  • France 190,000 8,000
  • Germany 200,000 9,000
  • Italy 60,000 4,627
  • Russia 419,340 56,000
  • USA 72,807 1,462
  • Others 10,000 1,000

Poison Gas
  • The German army were the first to use chlorine
    gas at the battle of Ypres in 1915. Chlorine gas
    causes a burning sensation in the throat and
    chest pains. Death is painful you suffocate!
    The problem with chlorine gas is that the weather
    must be right. If the wind is in the wrong
    direction it could end up killing your own troops
    rather than the enemy.
  • In consequence experiments were undertaken to
    deliver the gas payload in artillery shells. This
    provided the additional benefits of increasing
    the target range as well as the variety of gases
  • Phosgene
  • Following on the heels of chlorine gas came the
    use of phosgene. Phosgene as a weapon was more
    potent than chlorine in that while the latter was
    potentially deadly it caused the victim to
    violently cough and choke.

Poison Gas
  • Mustard Gas
  • Mustard gas was the most deadly weapon used. It
    was fired into the trenches in shells. It is
    colorless and takes 12 hours to take effect.
    Effects include blistering skin, vomiting, sore
    eyes, internal and external bleeding. Death can
    take up to 5 weeks.
  • Remaining consistently ahead in terms of gas
    warfare development, Germany unveiled an enhanced
    form of gas weaponry against the Russians at Riga
    in September 1917 mustard gas (or Yperite)
    contained in artillery shells.
  • Mustard gas, an almost odorless chemical, was
    distinguished by the serious blisters it caused
    both internally and externally, brought on
    several hours after exposure. Protection against
    mustard gas proved more difficult than against
    either chlorine or phosgene gas.
  • The use of mustard gas - sometimes referred to as
    Yperite - also proved to have mixed benefits.
    While inflicting serious injury upon the enemy
    the chemical remained potent in soil for weeks
    after release making capture of infected
    trenches a dangerous undertaking.

Poison Gas- Mustard Gas effects
  • Tanks were used for the first time in the First
    World War at the Battle of the Somme. They were
    developed to cope with the conditions on the
    Western Front. The first tank was called Little
    Willie and needed a crew of 3. Its maximum speed
    was 3mph and it could not cross trenches
  • The more modern tank was not developed until just
    before the end of the war. It could carry 10 men,
    had a revolving turret and could reach 4 mph

  • By the time the war drew to a close the British,
    the first to use them, had produced some 2,636
    tanks. The French produced rather more, 3,870.
    The Germans, never convinced of its merits, and
    despite their record for technological
    innovation, produced just 20.

  • The basic idea of a flame-thrower is to spread
    fire by launching burning fuel. The earliest
    flame-throwers date as far back as the 5th
    century B.C. These took the form of lengthy tubes
    filled with burning solids (such as coal or
    sulfur), and which were used in the same way as
    blow-guns by blowing into one end of the tube
    the solid material inside would be propelled
    towards the operator's enemies.
  • Quite aside from the worries of handling the
    device - it was entirely feasible that the
    cylinder carrying the fuel might unexpectedly
    explode - they were marked men the British and
    French poured rifle-fire into the area of attack
    where Flammenwerfers were used, and their
    operators could expect no mercy should they be
    taken prisoner. Their life expectancy was
    therefore short.

During the war the Germans launched in excess of
650 flame-thrower attacks no numbers exist for
British or French attacks.
  • The British bombing team usually consisted of
    nine men at a time an NCO, two throwers, two
    carriers, two bayonet-men to defend the team and
    two 'spare' men for use when casualties were
  • As an attack or raid reached an enemy trench the
    grenadiers would be responsible for racing down
    the trench and throwing grenades into each dugout
    they passed this invariably succeeded in purging
    dugouts of their human occupants in an attempt at
    surrender (often not accepted as they were
    promptly shot or stabbed).
  • Grenades - either hand or rifle driven - were
    detonated in one of two ways. They were either
    detonated on impact (percussion) or via a timed
  • Generally speaking, infantrymen preferred timed
    fuses (of whatever amount of time) to percussion
    devices, since there remained the constant risk
    of accidentally jolting a grenade while in a
    trench and setting off an explosion.

Mortars and Artillery
  • Large field guns had a long range and could
    deliver devastating blows to the enemy but needed
    up to 12 men to work them. They fired shells
    which exploded on impact.
  • mortar is essentially a short, stumpy tube
    designed to fire a projectile at a steep angle
    (by definition higher than 45 degrees) so that it
    falls straight down on the enemy.
  • The chief advantage of the mortar was that it
    could be fired from the (relative) safety of the
    trench, avoiding exposure of the mortar crews to
    the enemy. Furthermore, it was notably lighter
    and more mobile than other, larger artillery
    pieces. And, of course, the very fact that the
    mortar bomb fell almost straight down meant that
    it would (with luck) land smack in the enemy
  • Mortars were variously used to take out enemy
    machine gun posts, suspected sniper posts or
    other designated features. Larger mortars were
    occasionally used to cut enemy barbed wire,
    generally in situations were field artillery
    could not be used.

  • The Allies used four "types" of trenches. The
    first, the front-line trench (or
    firing-and-attack trench), was located from 50
    yards to 1 mile from the German's front trench.
    Several hundred yards behind the front-line
    trench was the support trench, with men and
    supplies that could immediately assist those on
    the front line. The reserve trench was dug
    several hundred yards further back and contained
    men and supplies that were available in
    emergencies should the first trenches be
  • Connecting these trenches were communication
    trenches, which allowed movement of messages,
    supplies, and men among the trenches. Some
    underground networks connected gun emplacements
    and bunkers with the communication trenches.

Trench Facts
  • Each battalion had its own supply of rum that it
    distributed to its soldiers. Each division of
    20,000 men received 300 gallon.
  • Every soldier carried iron rations -- emergency
    food that consisted of a can of bully bee,
    biscuits and a tin of tea and sugar.
  • A single pair of rats could produced up to 880
    offspring in a year.
  • A total of 3,894 men in the British Army were
    convicted of self-inflicted wounds. A
    firing-squad offense -- none were executed, but
    all served prison terms.
  • The British Army treated 20,000 soldiers for
    trench foot during the winter of 1914-15.
  • One-third of all casualties on the Western Front
    may have been killed or wounded in a trench.
  • A lit candle was fairly effective in removing
    lice, but the skill of burning the lice without
    setting yourself on fire was difficult to
    learn. Soldiers in the trenches often depended
    on impure water collected from shell-holes or
    other cavities, causing dysentery

  • Trenches were not built in straight lines. This
    was so that if the enemy managed to get into the
    front line trench they would not have a straight
    firing line along the trench. Trenches were
    therefore built with alternating straight and
    angled lines. The traverse was the name given to
    the angled parts of the trench.
  • The typical front-line trench was about 6 to 8
    feet deep and wide enough for two men to pass.
    Dugouts in the sides of the trenches protected
    men during enemy fire. Barbed wire helped protect
    the firing trench from surprise attacks.
  • Between the enemy lines lay a stretch of ground
    called "no man's land." Soldiers generally served
    at the front line from a few days to a week and
    then rotated to the rear for a rest
  • Every soldier carried iron rations -- emergency
    food that consisted of a can of bully beef,
    biscuits and a tin of tea and sugar.

Except during an attack, life fell into a dull
routine. Some soldiers stood guard. Others
repaired the trenches, kept telephone lines in
order, brought food from behind the battle lines,
or did other jobs. At night, patrols fixed the
barbed wire and tried to get information about
the enemy.
Trenches- Trench Foot
  • Much of the land where the trenches were dug was
    either clay or sand. The water could not pass
    through the clay and because the sand was on top,
    the trenches became waterlogged when it rained.
    The trenches were hard to dig and kept on
    collapsing in the waterlogged sand. As well as
    trenches the shells from the guns and bombs made
    big craters in the ground. The rain filled up the
    craters and then poured into the trenches
  • Soldiers who spent prolonged periods of time
    standing in waterlogged trenches were liable to
    suffer from frostbite and/or trench foot. To
    prevent trench foot, soldiers were instructed to
    change their socks frequently, wear waterproof
    footwear and to cover their feet with whale oil.

Trenches- Rats, Lice and Trench Fever
  • Many men killed in the trenches were buried
    almost where they fell. If a trench subsided, or
    new trenches or dugouts were needed, large
    numbers of decomposing bodies would be found just
    below the surface. These corpses, as well as the
    food scraps that littered the trenches, attracted
    rats. One pair of rats can produce 880 offspring
    in a year and so the trenches were soon swarming
    with them.
  • Men in the trenches suffered from lice. Various
    methods were used to remove the lice. A lighted
    candle was fairly effective but the skill of
    burning the lice without burning your clothes was
    only learnt with practice. Where possible the
    army arranged for the men to have baths in huge
    vats of hot water while their clothes were being
    put through delousing machines. Unfortunately,
    this rarely worked. A fair proportion of the eggs
    remained in the clothes and within two or three
    hours of the clothes being put on again a man's
    body heat had hatched them out.
  • As well as causing frenzied scratching, lice also
    carried disease. This was known as pyrexia or
    trench fever. The first symptoms were shooting
    pains in the shins and was followed by a very
    high fever. Although the disease did not kill, it
    did stop soldiers from fighting and accounted for
    about 15 of all cases of sickness in the British
  • Soldiers in the trenches often depended on impure
    water collected from shell-holes or other
    cavities, causing dysentery.

Trenches- Self Inflicted wounds Shell Shock
  • Faced with the prospect of being killed or
    permanently disabled, soldiers sometimes hoped
    that they would receive what was known as a
    blighty wound, and be sent back home. There were
    some cases where soldiers shot themselves in an
    attempt to end their time on the frontline.
    Self-inflicted wounds (SIW) was a capital offence
    and if discovered, a man found guilty of this
    faced execution by firing-squad. A total of 3,894
    men in the British Army were convicted of SIW.
    None of these men were executed but they all
    served periods in prison.
  • By 1914 British doctors working in military
    hospitals noticed patients suffering from "shell
    shock". Early symptoms included tiredness,
    irritability, giddiness, lack of concentration
    and headaches. Eventually the men suffered mental
    breakdowns making it impossible for them to
    remain in the front-line. Some came to the
    conclusion that the soldiers condition was caused
    by the enemy's heavy artillery. These doctors
    argued that a bursting shell creates a vacuum,
    and when the air rushes into this vacuum it
    disturbs the cerebra-spinal fluid and this can
    upset the working of the brain.

  • The Zeppelin, also known as blimp was an airship
    that was used during the early part of the war in
    bombing raids by the Germans. They carried
    machine guns and bombs. However, they were
    abandoned because they were easy to shoot out of
    the sky.

  • Planes were also used for the first time. At
    first they were used to deliver bombs and for
    spying work but became fighter aircraft armed
    with machine guns, bombs and some times cannons.
    Fights between two planes in the sky became known
    as dogfights
  • Light machine guns were adopted too for
    incorporation into aircraft from 1915 onwards,
    for example the Vickers, particularly with the
    German adoption of interrupter equipment, which
    enabled the pilot to fire the gun through the
    aircraft's propeller blades.

Submarines - U-Boats
  • Torpedoes were used by submarines. The Germans
    used torpedoes to blow up ships carrying supplies
    from America to Britain.
  • In February 1915 the German government announced
    its solution to the problem -- unrestricted
    submarine warfare. The Germans realized they
    didn't have to capture a merchant ship, just sink
    it - crew and all. They declared a war zone
    around the British Isles within which they would
    sink any allied merchant vessel on sight.
  • The Germans torpedoed the passenger liner
    Lusitania on May 1st 1915 which sank with a loss
    of 1,195 lives. Americans were outraged and
    joined the war in 1917 on the side of the

World War I Disabilities
  • Over 1.65 million men in the British Army were
    wounded during the First World War. Of these,
    around 240,000 British soldiers suffered total or
    partial leg or arm amputations as a result of war
    wounds. Most of these men were fitted with
    artificial limbs.