|Some Helpful Background to WW1
description of trench warfare and casualties in WW I:
The Western Front ran some 300 miles across the face of Western Europe, from Belgium to Switzerland. The front consisted of opposing trenches, sometimes only yards apart. The trench warfare of World War I lasted for three years and took several million lives. The Battle of the Somme, an attack by the Allies trying to break through the German lines, took more than four months. The allies gained only six miles. British and French casualties were 95,675 Britons killed and 60,729 Frenchmen killed. The defense cost the Germans 164,055 soldiers killed.
Overall German casualties during the War (wounded and killed) were 7,142,558, some 65% of all German soldiers who were mobilized. French casualties were 6,160,800, an astounding 73% of all men mobilized. British Empire casualties were 3,190,235, "only" 36% of men mobilized. U.S. casualties were 350,300, a "minimal" 8% of mobilized personnel. Counting all combatants over the entire War, 65 million men were mobilized, 8.5 million killed, 21.2 million wounded, and 7.7 million taken prisoner or missing in action.
The trenches were muddy and often flooded with water. The bodies of dead and wounded men and animals fouled them. Corpses lay in the no man's land between the trenches. Enemy snipers, rats, lice, and stench from the decaying bodies contributed to the misery of the trenches. Toward the end of the war the German soldiers had little food.
An attack was preceded by bombardments, some lasting for days. In order to mount an attack, soldiers carrying rifles and packs had to go "over the top." Once in the no man's land they faced barbed wire entanglements, machine guns, bombardment (often by their own misdirected guns), grenades, poison gas and fire from the opposing trenches.
Some Miscellaneous facts about WW1
The First World War was the first conflict in which air planes were used to attack enemy positions. See The Dawn Patrol.
The First World War was primarily between two European alliances. The "Central Powers" consisted of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The "Allies" were Britain, France and Russia. Various smaller states and areas outside of Europe were also involved. Turkey was an ally of the "Central Powers" and lost most of her empire as a result. British, French and South African troops conquered German possessions in Africa. After the Russian Revolution in 1917 the Bolsheviks sued for a separate peace.
The Western Front was in stalemate until the U.S. entered the war. Fresh troops and abundant hardware and supplies, tipped the scales decisively in favor of the Allies. An armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 and the Treaty of Versailles was imposed on Germany in June 1919. For a description of the causes of World War I, see World War I Trenches on the Web and Guide to Paths of Glory.
description and causes of the First World War
World War I was caused by strong feelings of nationalism, economic rivalry between nations, the existence of large armies on all sides, and a history of hostility and of wars in previous centuries that left countries and peoples with a feeling that they needed to get even with each other. The rulers of the German nation, united only since 1871, wanted to become a sea power and acquire a colonial empire. To fulfill these ambitions, Germany built up its navy which was soon second only to the British navy. This triggered a naval armaments race between the two countries.
In 1870 the French army had been crushed by the German army. Paris had been besieged and starved into submission. France was forced to agree to a humiliating peace in which it was compelled to pay large sums to Germany and give up Alsace-Lorraine, a large economically important region on the border between the two countries.
Europe was divided into two military alliances: the Triple Entente of Great Britain, France and Russia and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. The nationalist movement in Serbia wanted to acquire the southern part of Bosnia and was hostile to the annexation. Serbia, however, was too weak to fight Austria- Hungary without the support of Russia. When Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by Serb terrorists in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary used the event as an excuse to invade Serbia. Russia mobilized to defend Serbia. Germany and Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia and France. Great Britain then declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. The Great War was on.
some facts about Turkey and WW1
Turkey was a German ally during the First World War. Winston Churchill, at that time First Lord of the British Admiralty, thought that if the British could send the Navy through the Dardanelles they could point their guns at Istanbul and force Turkey out of the War. But Turkish shore batteries on the Gallipoli Peninsula and mine fields in the Dardanelles frustrated the British plan. Churchill then decided to land troops at Gallipoli to take out the shore batteries.
The invasion was unsuccessful. The defenders were commanded by Kemal Ataturk, a determined officer who later lead the Turkish revolution against the Ottomans. Ataturk was the father and first President of the modern state of Turkey. Eventually, after almost 300,000 casualties and no results except for the death of about 300,000 Turks, the British and ANZAC troops withdrew. Churchill was relieved of his position as First Lord of the Admiralty and ever after was taunted by the opposition with the cry: "What about the Dardanelles?"