Published on March 21, 2014
The Great War
July 28, 1914- Russia mobilized against Austria- Hungary (last act of diplomacy and first act of war) July 30, 1914- Russia issues full mobilization orders against Austria-Hungary and Germany. August 1, 1914- Germany declares war on Russia. August 3, 1914- Germany declares war on France. Chain reaction ensues and by the end of the first week of war, 44 declarations of war and mobilization orders were issued.
The Allied Powers (the Allies) consisted of Great Britain, France and Russia…later members would include Japan and Italy. The Central Powers (named for their central location in Europe) consisted of Germany, Austria- Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire.
The Schlieffen Plan Created by General Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, the plan solved the problem of a two front war with Russia in the East and France in the West. Plan called for a fast concentrated attack of France and quick victory. Once victorious on the western front, troops could be diverted to Russia in the east.
A quick campaign could be won in the west against France. The capture of a nation’s capital would result in an outright victory. The slow movement of Russian troops to the eastern front due to the lack of railroads. These assumptions would prove false because they did not take into consideration military technologies, the size of various armies, the difficulty of terrain and the popular effects of nationalism.
September 3, 1914 Under General Helmuth von Moltke, the Germans were on the outskirts of Paris. French received intelligence on German movements and planned an attack in the valley of the Marne River. In order to get every available soldier to the front, General Joseph Joffre ordered more than 600 Parisian taxis to ferry the troops to the front. After 4 days of fighting, the Germans ordered retreat. A quick victory on the Western Front is no longer possible and a stalemate settles.
A system of parallel trenches stretched from the North Sea to the Swiss boarder.
Trench systems on the front lines were made up of 3 parallel lines fire trench- about 4 ft deep and built up with sandbags so the men could stand. The bottom of the trench ran a drainage runnel leading to sump pumps and covered with lengths of wooden ladder called duckboards.
Travel Trench Located about 20 yards from firing trench, it was a clear path for the quick movement of troops to needed points on the trench line.
Supportlines More complex with kitchens, latrines, stores and mortar positions located at the end of short lead off trenches. Dug outs were where refuge could be found by the soldiers and were made homey with pictures, chairs, gramophones and news from home.
New military technologies changed the way that wars were fought and made the Great War, a war of attrition.
On seeing the approach of the greenish-grey gas cloud during the Battle of Ypres, word was passed among the Canadian troops to urinate on their handkerchiefs and place these over their noses and mouths. The Germans were using chlorine gas.
Manfred von Richthofen
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