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Why Did Trench Warfare Develop on the Western Front and Why Was It so Hard to Break the Deadlock of Trench Warfare?

  • Date Submitted: 07/28/2012 03:54 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 49.8 
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During the Great War 1914-1918, much of the fighting was done in the vicinity of trenches; it was attrition warfare where the opposition was slowly worn down to reach victory. It was extremely laborious to break the deadlock of trench warfare as there were bad attack strategies and exceptional defense techniques,   the great military revolution in firepower was not met with inventions that encouraged mobility. The main cause of trench warfare was the failure of the Schlieffen Plan.

General Schlieffen’s plan was designed for a quick war however it was war by timetable that did not work out leading to the building of trenches. The Germans were instructed to walk through Belgium and the Belgium army put up a surprisingly strong fight against the Germans which held them for 2 weeks already delaying the plan. The attack in Belgium induced the British Expeditionary Force to get involved, giving the Germans a nasty shock. Also, the assumption that the Russians would take 6 weeks to mobilize was wrong as they only took 2 weeks. The German soldiers were not following the timetable well but got to Paris where they fought with the French who had arrived by taxi! Neither country would allow each other to gain land so at the Battle of the Marne, so they both dug trenches from the North Sea to the Swiss Frontier which changed very little throughout the war. Events such as Belgium’s efforts and the Russian’s mobilization defeated the weak war timetable thus resulting in trench warfare as neither side wanted land to be gained.

The gaining of land was uncommon and difficult as the high command’s attack strategies were undeveloped and ineffectual leaving the soldiers in the trenches for even longer. The Allies’ highly ranked officers instructed their soldiers to walk across no man’s land carrying heavy packs with trench repair equipment to build new trenches, armed with only a bayonet. Not only did the soldiers have to walk, they had to walk over in groups to appear civilized...


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