How was world war 1 fought

War on land – the Western
 The Western Front was the most important
for several reasons.
 Its size (320km) and the fact it was
operational for all four years.
 The fighting on the Western front had a
significant impact on ideas and attitudes.
Cross Section of a trench
View from above
Why did trench warfare lead
to a stalemate?
 In order to hold their positions soldiers had to
dig down to keep out of the line of fire.
 These hastily dug ditches soon became
 They evolved into complex defensive
systems on both sides.
 Deadlier for attackers than defenders.
 Why would this be the case?
 What is ‘going over the top’?
 Why did this lead to stalemate?
War of Attrition
 There was little change in the position of the
front over the four years.
 The aim of battles was not to win territory
but to destroy the opposing army.
 It was a war of attrition to break the morale
of the enemy and reduce their numbers.
Pictures from the trenches
Study Section
 The Christmas truce.
 Shell-shock.
 Trench foot.
 The work of miners tunneling beneath the
 Communication systems used in the
 Those who were shot for ‘cowardice’.
How did the development of weaponry lead
to a change in tactics on the Western
 Both sides used a wide range of weapons to
try and break the deadlock.
 The infantry charge was the key battle tactic
used throughout the war.
 Weapons were developed to make this
strategy more effective.
Machine guns and rifles
Main types of guns…
 Lee-Enfield rifle with bayonet attached – 25
rounds a minute could be fired.
 600 rounds a minute could be fired.
 Another WW1 innovation was the
submachine gun known as a ‘trench sweeper’
Hand grenades
 Small hand-thrown bombs.
 The British used the pineapple shaped Mills
 The Germans used stick-shaped grenades
nicknamed ‘potato-mashers’
Heavy Artillery
The real killer
 In WW1 artillery inflicted 70% of all casualties.
 The war was so static the guns could take up
permanent positions.
 Every major attack was preceded by a
prolonged artillery barrage.
Problems with artillery
 Not accurate enough to destroy enemy
 It gave the enemy warning of an attack to
come. (Battle of the Somme)
 ‘Creeping barrage’ and ‘artillery ambush’
Chemical Warfare
Poison Gas
 Chlorine Gas was first used by the Germans.
 Phosgene Gas 18x stronger.
 Mustard Gas which burned, blinded and
slowly killed victims over several weeks.
 Gas masks were developed by scientists
making gas as a weapon less effective.
 The tank was not able to break the stalemate.
 It was slow and unreliable and many tanks
broke down before reaching the trenches.
 Their armor plating was also not strong
enough to resist artillery.
 Battle of the Somme & Battle of Cambrai
What was the importance of
naval warfare in WWI?
 The control of the seas was crucial to both
 GB was an island and needed food, industrial
supplies and soldiers from other countries.
 Germany also needed food and other
supplies from overseas.
GB rules the waves?
 GB was successful in controlling the trade
 The Allies blockaded German ships.
 GB enforced the search of neutral shipping
and stopped them going to Germany.
Mines and Submarines
 The Germans used U-boats to try and enforce
their own blockade on GB.
 This proved to be politically dangerous
 The Germans hope that unrestricted sub
warfare would starve GB and France.
Why was GB able to survive
the U-boat blockade?
 The convoy system was the turning point.
 As technology progressed depth charges and
‘listening devices’ helped to attack U-boats.
 Improved sub. nets forced the U-boats to go
north around GB made them less effective.
Convoy System
Battle of Jutland
Major Naval engagement
 One major challenge to GB’s supremacy – 31
May-1 June 1916.
 After several hours of exchanging artillery fire,
the Germans sailed back to port.
 GB lost 14 ships and Germany 11.
 The result Germany had not destroyed GB’s fleet
it was still in control of the surface waters.
Importance of naval
 GB’s navy was able to move 8.5 million troops
across the British Empire.
 Imports reached GB and they were able to
maintain the blockade on Germany.
 They were also able to sustain the convoy
system and transport US troops and
equipment for the final battles.
Zeppelins and airships
Airships and civilian
 The Germans had the Zepellin and were able
to bomb civilian targets in England.
 The British used airships mainly for escorting
ships and spotting U-boats.
 They soon became easy targets and were
replaced by bomber fleets later in the war.
WWI Bombers
Bombing Raids
 The German Gotha caused 3000 casualties in
raids over London and SE England.
 By 1918 GB was making raids into enemy
territory – Mainz, Stuttgart and Mannheim.
 The idea of attacking civilian targets had
become a feature of war by 1918.
 Pilots were able to report on troop
concentrations and artillery movements.
 Photographs of trench systems could be
taken from the air.
 Messages were dropped by aircraft and
communication with the ground possible.
Red Baron and Micky Mannock
 At first pilots tried to attack each other with
rifles and pistols.
 By 1915 machine guns were fitted and
synchronized to shoot through propeller.
 Dog-fights became a common site over the
Potential of airpower
 By 1918 there were more than 8000 aircraft
on all sides.
Control of the skies over the battlefield had
become essential for victory.
It was clear that bombing civilians affected
enemy morale.
The end of WWI was still determined by what
happened on the ground.
This was a sign of what was to come in 193945.

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