The Great War
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1. 1914 - To Arms
Concern for Germany's growing militarism, Kaiser Wilhelm II's obsession to match Britain's navy and the existence of the long established French and German war-plans only fueled the air of instability in Europe. It was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that ignited the global conflict.
2. 1915 - Death in Foreign Fields
1915 was to see warfare take on a new dimension with the bombing of British cities by Zeppelin airships. Germany also began U-Boat attacks on neutral shipping, a policy that would contribute to the United States entering the war. Gas was also used for the first time by the Germans.
3. 1916 - Stalemate
In February the Germans began their assault on the forts at Verdun in a battle of attrition that would last until December. In the East the Russians launched an offensive to try and relief the pressure on the French. Although the Russians ultimately failed to make any gains it did draw German divisions away from the Western Front.
4. 1917 - The Breaking of Armies
The most catastrophic revolt of all occurred in the Russian Army where hundreds of thousands of soldiers deserted. Russia's Great war was essentially over. Germany moved many more troops to the Western Front and despite America's entry into the war, it would not be until 1918 when the full effect of their involvement would be appreciated.
5. 1918 - Germany's Last Gamble
Using new "Storm Trooper" tactics, the Germans launched attacks against the British with devastating results. In just three weeks the Allies lost 400,000 men. Completely overwhelmed, General Haig issued his famous "Backs to the Wall" message to the troops. However, the lack of resources caused by naval blockades and the first appearance of "Spanish Influenza" meant that the German forces halted.
6. Air Power Technology
In 1909, Louis Bleriot managed to fly across the English Channel, an event which wakened military commanders to aviation's potential. Just five years later, at the outbreak of war, aircraft were to play an increasingly important role in reconnaissance and range-finding for the artillery. In the latter stages of the conflict, their roles included ground attack and long-range bombing.
7. Land Warfare Technology
Artillery had changed out of all recognition and the killing power of the machine gun soon rendered the vestiges of 19th Century warfare redundant. The problem was that tactics had not developed to make best use of the new technologies resulting in wholesale slaughter on the Western Front. A new terror weapon emerged in the form of gas which was first used by the Germans on the Eastern Front.
8. Sea Power Technology
In 1914 Britain had the most powerful navy in the world. The pride of her fleet were her dreadnoughts first launched in 1906. These enormous battleships were the catalyst for the arms race with German who, envious of Britain's sea supremacy, determined to have a fleet of her own. The Battle of Jutland in 1916 was the one great naval showdown of the war.