World War I: Battles & Technology EQ: How was WWI fought? COMBATANTS OF WWI (Triple Alliance)Central Powers Germany (Triple Entente)Allied Powers Russia Austria-Hungary Ottoman Empire Bulgaria France World War I Great Britain Italy Japan United States (1917) Why was WWI a Stalemate? • What’s a stalemate? –Neither side can make a move to win • Both sides of the war threw arms and troops in to win but………… • Millions die without gaining ground. WHY? Precursor to Battle of Verdun • After two years of warfare, Germans realize they can’t break through the Allied lines in France. • German General Falkenhayn proposes a war of attrition against the French Army. • A war of attrition is about killing more people than you lose. Example: Can’t take the hill? Then kill as many as you can and one day you will. – Attack a position the French can’t afford to lose – Kill as many French troops as possible The Battle of Verdun • February 21, 1916 – December 18, 1916 • One of the most costly battles of WWI. • Germans attempt to conquer key French city of Verdun. • Would have opened Paris up to invasion. New Tactics • Germans attack with flame throwers for the first time. – Flame throwers used to clear French out of trenches • German troops begin attack with grenades instead of rifles • Manage to move forward three miles in a day. • New types of poison gas introduced by Germans. Results • French Casualties – 550000 dead • German Casualties – 434000 dead • British begin battle of the Somme to relieve French army at Verdun. • Neither French or German army gains an advantage. Significance • French hold Verdun thanks to forts – Convinced that a system of fixed heavy forts is the best defense (will not work for the French in WWII… ask me why) • WWI becomes a war of attrition. Armies fight lengthy battles, with very high casualties. Trench Warfare Trench Warfare – type of fighting during World War I in which both sides dug trenches protected by mines and barbed wire • Trenches were dug from English Channel to Switzerland • 6,250 miles • 6 to 8 feet deep • Immobilized both sides for 4 years THE TRENCH SYSTEM Layout: • 1st: No Man’s Land • 2nd: Barbed wire, mines, etc. • 3rd: Front line • 4th: Communication trench • 5th: Support trenches LIFE IN THE TRENCHES • Elaborate systems of defense – barbed wire – Concrete machine gun nests – Mortar batteries – Troops lived in holes underground • Boredom – Soldiers read to pass the time – Sarah Bernhardt came out to the front to read poetry to the soldiers “Death is Everywhere” • “We all had on us the stench of dead bodies.” Death numbed the soldier’s minds. • Shell shock (mental anguish) • Psychological devastation • “Never such innocence again” • Bitterness towards aristocratic officers whose lives were never in danger WWI WEAPONRY The countries fighting grew more and more desperate to break the stalemate. The war of attrition led to more terrifying ways to kill humans What new weapons were used in WWI? • • • • • • • • Machine gun Poison gas (Mustard gas) • Carried by the wind • Burned out soldier’s lungs • Deadly in the trenches where it would sit at the bottom Submarine Airplane Tank Hand grenades Flame Throwers Why these weapons? Why now? INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION!!! New Technologies of WWI • Tanks • Initially used for breaking through barbed wire between trenches. • Armed with small guns, and machine guns Artillery • Germans produce massive guns for shelling French lines. • Some fire shells as large as 1000 pounds, • The “Paris Gun” is able to fire shells over 75 miles. Poisonous Gas • Poisonous gasses like mustard gas used by both sides. • Fired by artillery into opposing lines. • Hundreds of thousands die due to exposure. German submarines, called U-boats, torpedoed enemy ships and neutral ships trading with the enemy. Air Combat • Airplanes initially used only for observation. • Enemy airplanes armed with machine guns to shoot down observation planes. • Eventually planes used to drop bombs on enemy positions.