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The Western Front and Life in the Trenches

The Western Front and Life in the Trenches

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The Western Front and Life in the Trenches

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  1. The Western Front and Life in the Trenches

  2. What was the Western Front?

  3. The Western Front

  4. The two main fronts: • On your coloured and labeled map of the alliances in your workbook, mark the Western front and the Eastern front.

  5. Schlieffen Plan • 3rd of Aug, 1914: • The aim of the Von Schlieffen plan was to knock France out of the war quickly so that Germany did not have to fight the French and the Russians (=Eastern front) at the same time. • The plan failed…

  6. Why did the plan fail? • See page 35. • Write down: The Schlieffen plan failed because: • (use short dot points)

  7. The result of the failed plan: After the first Battle of the Marne (= one month later, 5 – 19 sept, 1914), both sides dug trenches; the war of attrition had begun. The western front became a deadlocked region of battlefields in Northern France where war turned into a long and bloody stalemate.

  8. Why use trenches and how do they work?

  9. Whatis in a Trench? • Barbed wire: to make running at the trench difficult. • Sandbagged parapet: to stop the trench collapsing. • Parados: to stop ‘shrapnel’ getting into the trench. • Fire step: to shoot from. • Duck Boards: stopped the bottom of the trench getting very muddy and slippery.

  10. TrenchSystem

  11. Tunneling

  12. Trench Warfare: Trench Warfare: Armies fought each other in dugouts but it often led to long periods of stagnation and a high death toll.

  13. The theory and the reality…

  14. Fighting in Europe: • By 1915, opposing armies on the Western Front had dug miles of parallel trenches to protect themselves from enemy fire. • This type of warfare led to huge losses of human life for very small land gains.

  15. Trench Warfare • Attacks and Offensives- An attack usually involves a division (16,000) and an offensive was larger (at least one corps).

  16. Weapons and trench war fare

  17. Weapons in WW1 • Tanks • Gas • Machine guns • Airplanes • Artillery (shells, mortars, bombs)

  18. Weapons in WW1 You tube video of different weapons:

  19. Weapons in WW1 • Rapid technological innovation • Technology changed, but mindset of commanders did not…. • Soldiers trained in old fashioned techniques (charging at enemy)

  20. Tanks • Tanks: introduced by British in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.

  21. Tanks

  22. Tanks • Winston Churchill (lord of the admiralty and home secretary in WW1) saw importance of tanks • Germans were surprised by tanks but because of their initial failure, did not take them seriously. • Germans did not devote large amounts of money, research or time to tank-development. • But British and French continue to improve on initial flawed design. • By end of war, tanks were used strategically to force break throughs.

  23. Tanks • See page 52 • Tanks not used effectively by commanders until 1918 • Germans did not see importance of tanks

  24. Early tanks • Very slow • Chains ran off tracks • Got stuck in mud • Engines overheated • Strategically misused and underused until 1918

  25. Tanks • You tube video showing tanks in use: •

  26. Chemical warfare • See page 49

  27. Chemical Warfare • French started with tear gas grenades. • Germany used chemicals in artillery shells, bombs, and grenades. • Gas masks developed quickly, became more sophisticated by end of war. • (Another idea from British: Set up 100,000 fans.) • Many types of gases were used, i.e: tear gas, mustard gas, chlorine gas

  28. Chlorine Gas • Used by both allies and central powers. • Lung irritant. • First developed by IG Farben, a German chemical company. • Replaced by mustard gas and phosgene. • Used in the Second Battle of Ypres. • Distinctive smell – mixture of pineapple and pepper. • Distinctive taste – metallic taste.

  29. Phosgene • U.S. developed chemical. • Used by both Allies and Central powers. • Irritates mucous and skin. • Corrosive and toxic. • Successor to Chlorine Gas.

  30. Xylyl bromide (tear gas) • Tear gas impeded ability to fight; incapacitated soldiers. • Irritates eyes and lungs. • Used by French in the form of grenades. • Used by both sides • Put into T-Shells, a shell with an explosive tip that was filled with tear gas. • Easy to manufacture; was popular because of that.

  31. Mustard Gas • Causes blistering • Incapacitates soldiers. • Hard to counter, burns exposed skin. • Put into a variety of artillery, bombs, and other munitions. • Used by both sides. • Was persistent. It would remain for days, clothing and equipment that had been contaminated would spread the gas.

  32. Chemical warfare • Soldiers wore gas masks. • Photo of an early gas mask.

  33. Chemical Warfare, Quote • "[The] vapour settled to the ground like a swamp mist and drifted toward the French trenches on a brisk wind. Its effect on the French was a violent nausea and faintness, followed by an utter collapse. It is believed that the Germans, who charged in behind the vapour, met no resistance at all, the French at their front being virtually paralyzed." The use of gas at Langemarck ø as reported in the New York Tribune, April 27, 1915

  34. Poison Gas: effects • The gas eventually wore away. • Most dead men were left • Some died from the after-effects • Explosions left environment poisoned and destroyed

  35. Machine Guns

  36. Machine Gun • Fired ammunition automatically and could wipe out waves of attackers. • The machine gun made it very difficult for forces to advance across No Mans Land.

  37. Bombs • Bombs were very small in the beginning of the war. • Small arrows called Flechettes were also dropped on the enemy. • They were very inaccurate. • Bombing did not become effective until later in the war. • A bomber plane could carry one 1,650lb (=750 kg) bomb. • Only Zeppelins could carry big bombs.

  38. Mortars • lobbe • lobbed a shell in a high arc over a relatively short distance • Widely used in trench fighting for harassing the forward trenches, for cutting wire in preparation for a raid or attack, and for destroying trenches. • In 1914, the British fired a total of 545 mortar shells; in 1916, they fired over 6,500,000.

  39. Airplanes

  40. The Planes… • Low speed / low altitude • Most planes had low horse power. • They were very flimsy and unstable. • Hard to fly. • Many WW1 pilots died from accidents.

  41. Manfred von Richthofen. (Germany) Edward "Eddie" Rickenbacker. (US) Von Richthofen had highest kill rate of any pilot. He was shot down by ground fire. Eddie had 27 kills. Richthofen had 80. The Aces

  42. Zeppelins • Went on recon missions. (reconnaissance = exploration) • Used as high flying bomb throwers • Heavily guarded by machine guns and anti aircraft guns. • Very dangerous to pilots. • Were as fast as airplanes • Sometimes tethered to ground.

  43. Submarines • Germans introduced the submarine (U-boats) in 1914 as an effective warship • its primary weapon was the torpedo = underwater missile. • German unrestricted submarine warfare would be a major factor in bringing the U.S. into war.

  44. Flame throwers • Flame throwers- First used on the Western Front in 1914 to clear enemy soldiers on front-line. • Germans used it more often than allied powers. • Dangerous to operator and depending on wind.

  45. Infiltration tactics • Both sides used small groups of experienced soldiers to sneak up on enemy and cut barbed wire. • Then sent infantry across No Man’s Land.

  46. Casualties World War I took the lives of about 8.5 million soldiers… Statistics at a glance: Germany= 1.8 million Britain= 908,000 Russia= 1.7 million France= 1.3 million Austria-Hungary= 1.2 million

  47. But why so many casualties? • The new tools of war – machine guns, poison gas, armoured tanks, larger artillery - did not deliver the fast-moving war strategists had expected. • The new technology just killed greater numbers of people more effectively.

  48. Questions • What prolonged effect would this type of warfare have on soldiers? • How would trench warfare affect how countries felt at the end of the war? • Would trench warfare be a good tactic to use today? Why and why not? • How do you think you would feel as a WW1 trench soldier? Write down 10 adjectives.