Trench Warfare Trench warfare was a form of warfare in which both combatants occupied static fortified fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops were largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and were substantially sheltered from artillery. It has become a byword for stalemate in conflict, with a slow wearing down of opposing forces. Trench warfare occurred when a revolution in firepower was not matched by similar advances in mobility, resulting in a slow and grueling form of warfare in which the defence held the advantage. Both sides constructed elaborate and heavily- armed trench and dugout systems opposing each other along a front, protected from assault by barbed wire. The area between opposing trench lines (known as "no man's land") was fully exposed to small arms and artillery fire from both sides. Attacks, even if successful, often sustained severe casualties as a matter of course. Even when in the front line, the typical battalion would only be called upon to engage in fighting a handful of times a year—making an attack, defending against an attack or participating in a raid. The frequency of combat would increase for the units of the "elite" fighting divisions—on the Allied side; the British regular divisions, the Canadian Corps, the French XX Corps and the Anzacs. "Studying French in the Trenches," The Literary Digest, October 20, 1917. Some sectors of the front saw little activity throughout the war, making life in the trenches comparatively easy. When the I Anzac Corps first arrived in France in April 1916 after the evacuation of Gallipoli, they were sent to a relatively peaceful sector south of Armentières to "acclimatise". Other sectors were in a perpetual state of violent activity. On the Western Front, Ypres was invariably hellish, especially for the British in the exposed, overlooked salient. However, quiet sectors still amassed daily casualties through sniper fire, artillery, disease, and poison gas. In the first six months of 1916, before the launch of the Somme Offensive, the British did not engage in any significant battles on their sector of the Western Front and yet suffered 107,776 casualties. About 1 in 8 men would return alive and unwounded from the trenches. The intensity of World War I trench warfare meant about 10% of the fighting soldiers were killed. This compared to 5% killed during the Second Boer War and 4.5% killed during World War II. For British and Dominion troops serving on the Western Front, the proportion of troops killed was 12.5%, while the total proportion of troops who became casualties (killed or wounded) was 56%. Medical services were primitive and antibiotics had not yet been discovered. Relatively minor injuries could prove fatal through onset of infection and gangrene. The Germans recorded that 15% of leg wounds and 25% of arm wounds resulted in death, mainly through infection. The Americans recorded 44% of casualties who developed gangrene died. 50% of those wounded in the head died and 99% of those wounded in the abdomen died. 75% of wounds came from shell fire. A wound resulting from a shell fragment was usually more traumatic than a gunshot wound. A shell fragment would often introduce debris, making it more likely that the wound would become infected. These factors meant a soldier was three times more likely to die from a shell wound to the chest than from a gunshot wound. The blast from shell explosions could also kill by concussion. In addition to the physical effects of shell fire, there was the psychological damage. Men who had to endure prolonged bombardment would often suffer debilitating shell shock, a condition not well understood at the time. As in many other wars, World War I's greatest killer was disease. Sanitary conditions in the trenches were quite poor, and common infections included dysentery, typhus, and cholera. Many soldiers suffered from parasites and related infections. Poor hygiene also led to fungal conditions, such as trench mouth and trench foot. Another common killer was exposure, since the temperature within a trench in the winter could easily fall below zero degrees Celsius (32 °F). Burial of the dead was usually a luxury that neither side could easily afford. The bodies would lie in no man's land until the front line moved, by which time the bodies were often unidentifiable. On some battlefields, such as at the Nek in Gallipoli, the bodies were not buried until after the war. On the Western Front, bodies continue to be found as fields are ploughed and building foundations dug. Stretcher bearers, Passchendale, August 1917 At various times during the war—particularly early on—official truces were organised so that the wounded could be recovered from no man's land and the dead could be buried. Generally, senior commands disapproved of any slackening of the offensive for humanitarian reasons and so ordered their troops not to permit enemy stretcher-bearers to operate in no man's land. However, this order was almost invariably ignored by the soldiers in the trenches, who knew that it was to the mutual benefit of the fighting men of both sides to allow the wounded to be retrieved. So, as soon as hostilities ceased, parties of stretcher bearers, marked with Red Cross flags, would go out to recover the wounded, sometimes swapping enemy wounded for their own. There were occasions when this unofficial cease fire was exploited to conduct a reconnaissance or to reinforce or relieve a garrison. One famous truce was the Christmas truce between British and German soldiers in the winter of 1914 on the front near Armentieres. German soldiers began singing Christmas carols and soon soldiers left their trenches. The soldiers exchanged gifts and stories, and played several games of football. As mentioned previously, the commanders of the warring nations disapproved of this cease fire, and the British court-martialed several of their soldiers. The spirit of this truce is portrayed in the 2005 movie Merry Christmas. Poison Gas Considered uncivilised prior to World War One, the development and use of poison gas was necessitated by the requirement of wartime armies to find new ways of overcoming the stalemate of unexpected trench warfare. First Use by the French Although it is popularly believed that the German army was the first to use gas it was in fact initially deployed by the French. In the first month of the war, August 1914, they fired tear-gas grenades (xylyl bromide) against the Germans. Nevertheless the German army was the first to give serious study to the development of chemical weapons and the first to use it on a large scale. Initial German Experiments In the capture of Neuve Chapelle in October 1914 the German army fired shells at the French which contained a chemical irritant whose result was to induce a violent fit of sneezing. Three months later, on 31 January 1915, tear gas was employed by the Germans for the first time on the Eastern Front. Fired in liquid form contained in 15 cm howitzer shells against the Russians at Bolimov, the new experiment proved unsuccessful, with the tear gas liquid failing to vaporise in the freezing temperatures prevalent at Bolimov. Not giving up, the Germans tried again with an improved tear gas concoction at Nieuport against the French in March 1915. Introduction of Poison Gas The debut of the first poison gas however - in this instance, chlorine - came on 22 April 1915, at the start of the Second Battle of Ypres. At this stage of the war the famed Ypres Salient, held by the British, Canadians and French, ran for some 10 miles and bulged into German occupied territory for five miles. A combination of French territorials and Algerian troops held the line to the left, with the British and Canadians tending the centre and line to their right. During the morning of 22 April the Germans poured a heavy bombardment around Ypres, but the line fell silent as the afternoon grew. Towards evening, at around 5 pm, the bombardment began afresh - except that sentries posted among the French and Algerian troops noticed a curious yellow- green cloud drifting slowly towards their line. Puzzled but suspicious the French suspected that the cloud masked an advance by German infantry and ordered their men to 'stand to' - that is, to mount the trench fire step in readiness for probable attack. The cloud did not mask an infantry attack however; at least, not yet. It signalled in fact the first use of chlorine gas on the battlefield. Ironically its use ought not to have been a surprise to the Allied troops, for captured German soldiers had revealed the imminent use of gas on the Western Front. Their warnings were not passed on however. The effects of chlorine gas were severe. Within seconds of inhaling its vapour it destroyed the victim's respiratory organs, bringing on choking attacks. Phosgene Following on the heels of chlorine gas came the use of phosgene. Phosgene as a weapon was more potent than chlorine in that while the latter was potentially deadly it caused the victim to violently cough and choke. Phosgene caused much less coughing with the result that more of it was inhaled; it was consequently adopted by both German and Allied armies. Phosgene often had a delayed effect; apparently healthy soldiers were taken down with phosgene gas poisoning up to 48 hours after inhalation. The so-called "white star" mixture of phosgene and chlorine was commonly used on the Somme: the chlorine content supplied the necessary vapour with which to carry the phosgene. Mustard Gas Remaining consistently ahead in terms of gas warfare development, Germany unveiled an enhanced form of gas weaponry against the Russians at Riga in September 1917: mustard gas (or Yperite) contained in artillery shells. Mustard gas, an almost odourless chemical, was distinguished by the serious blisters it caused both internally and externally, brought on several hours after exposure. Protection against mustard gas proved more difficult than against either chlorine or phosgene gas. The use of mustard gas - sometimes referred to as Yperite - also proved to have mixed benefits. While inflicting serious injury upon the enemy the chemical remained potent in soil for weeks after release: making capture of infected trenches a dangerous undertaking. Tank The development of Mark I tank began as a solution to the problem which trench warfare had brought to the western front. The first prototype of the Mark I tank was tested for the British Army on 8 September 1915. Although initially termed "land ships" by the British Army, initial vehicles were referred to as "water-carriers" (then shortened to "tanks") to preserve secrecy. While the British took the lead in tank development, the French were not far behind and fielded their first tanks in 1917. The Germans, on the other hand, were slower to develop tanks, concentrating on anti-tank weapons. Initial results were mixed, with reliability problems causing considerable attrition rates during combat deployment and transit. The heavily bombed-out terrain was impassable to conventional vehicles, and only highly mobile tanks such as the Mark I and FTs performed reasonably well. The Mark I's rhomboid shape meant it could navigate larger obstacles, especially long trenches, better than many modern armoured fighting vehicles. The tank would eventually make the trench warfare of World War I obsolete, and the thousands of tanks fielded by French and British forces made a significant contribution to the war effort. Along with the tank, the first self-propelled gun and the first armoured personnel carrier were also introduced in WWI (the Mark V tank was built with space inside for a small squad of infantry). The Mark I's were capable of performing on the real battlefield of WWI, one of the most difficult battlefield terrains ever. They did have reliability problems, but when they were working they could cross trenches or craters of 9 feet (2.7 m) and drive right through barbed wire. It was still common for them to get stuck, especially in larger bomb craters, but overall the rhomboid shape allowed for extreme terrain mobility. Splatter mask used by tank crews in World War One Most WWI tanks could travel only at about a walking pace at best. Their steel armour could stop small arms fire and fragments from high-explosive artillery shells. However they were vulnerable to a direct hit from artillery and mortar shells. The environment inside was extremely unpleasant; the atmosphere was contaminated with poisonous carbon monoxide, fuel and oil vapours from the engine and cordite fumes from the weapons as ventilation was inadequate. Temperatures inside could reach 50°C (122°F). Entire crews lost consciousness or became violently sick when again exposed to fresh air. To counter the fumes inside and the danger of bullet splash or fragments and rivets knocked off the inside of the hull, the crew wore helmets with goggles and chainmail masks. Gas masks were also standard issue, as they were to all soldiers at this point in the war (see chemical warfare). The side armour of 8 mm initially made them largely immune to small arms fire, but could be penetrated by the recently developed armour-piercing K bullets. There was also the danger of being overrun by infantry and attacked with grenades. The next generation had thicker armour, making them nearly immune to the K bullets. In response, the Germans developed a larger purpose-made anti-tank rifle, and also a Geballte Ladung ("Bunched Charge")—several regular stick grenades bundled together for a much bigger explosion. Engine power was a primary limitation on the tanks; the roughly one hundred horsepower engines gave a power-to-weight ratio of 3.3 hp/ton (2.5 kW/ton). By the end of the 20th century, power-to- weight ratios exceeded 20 hp/ton (15 kW/ton). Airplanes They fought in canvas and wood biplanes that could barely fly 100 MPH. Men like von Richthofen, Rickenbacker, Bishop, Guynemer, Mannock, Ball, who flew airplanes with names like Spad, Fokker, Albatros, Nieuport, and Sopwith Camel. High above the trenches they fought heroic battles with these primitive weapons. In this era, the top speeds were about 100 MPH. When the pilots ventured ten miles over the enemy lines, that was a notable event. The pilots carried no parachutes. The airplanes were made of wood and canvas; when they caught on fire, it spread quickly, and spelled certain death for the occupants. The press and public, desperate for propaganda heroes amongst the waste and useless battles of the trenches, idolized the young heroes. Aircraft Timeline 1914 - In the first few months of the war, combat between airplanes was unknown; they were used for reconnaissance photographs and some far-sighted aviators could envision using them for bombing. After some pilots took up pistols and rifles, some planes had machine guns mounted in the observer's seat, which typically fired rearward or to the side. When a French pilot, Roland Garros, bolted steel deflectors to his propeller, which permitted him to fire a machine gun through it, the airplane became an offensive weapon. 1915 - Then Tony Fokker, a Dutch airplane builder and entrepeneur working for the Germans, installed interrupter gear, permitting a machine gun to fire through the prop with much more reliability. For a time, the Fokkers gave the Germans an edge. Over the course of the war, the quality of Allied fighters, or "scouts," generally matched the Germans. The quality advantage swung back and forth somewhat, but even the mid-1915 "Fokker Scourge" has been overstated; the Germans just never had very many Fokker Eindeckers. And the British pusher biplanes and the French Nieuport 11 were very effective opponents. In 1917, with the introduction of the Albatros, again the Germans had a brief qualitative edge, but the Spads, S.E.5s, and Sopwith Camels held their own. This year also saw the innovative, but short- lived triplanes. By 1918, when Fokker introduced the D.VII and D.VIII, the overwhelming Allied numbers mooted the question of whether they were better than the best Allied scouts. Condition of Aerial Battles On the Western Front, the British and French air force outnumbered the Germans during World War One. Together they produced 125,000 aircraft, while the Germans built less than 50,000. With these superior numbers, the Allies were generally able to take the fight to the Germans, bombing and reconnoitering over their lines. This fundamental aspect of WWI's air combat meant that German fighter pilots usually flew over their own trenches, which required less fuel, less flying time, and also easier confirmation of downed aircraft. An added bonus for the German jagdflieger was the prevailing west wind. Any crippled German plane gliding for home had the wind at its back; while any damaged Allied plane faced head winds. Not a small consideration for the light craft of those years. Thus, while the Allies' greater numbers gave them the edge in the air war, many German aces were able to rack up impressive scores of downed British and French planes. WW1 Pilot Uniforms As shown in the picture, the stereotypical image of a WWI pilot's uniform is a costume that includes a leather flying helmet, googles, a scarf, and a leather overcoat. It was cold up there, so the padded helmet and coat were needed. And as the French officer in the movie "Flyboys" pointed out, the scarf was not to make the pilot look dashing for the ladies, but to prevent chaffing on the neck as the alert pilot constantly swiveled his head. None of my dozens of pictures show any pilot in the full outfit that we expect, but if you're going to costume party as a World War One Flying Ace, this is the uniform to wear. No Man’s Land No man's land is a term for land that is not occupied or more specifically land that is under dispute between countries or areas that will not occupy it because of fear or uncertainty. During war (especially World War I), it is a term used for the area of land between two enemy trenches that neither side wishes to openly move on or take control of due to fear of being attacked by the enemy in the process. It is also a term for the stretch of land between two border posts, when one exits one country at their border post and when one enters the next country at their border post, usually just a few meters away, though at some (usually remote) border crossings it can be measured in kilometers. Although usually associated with World War I, the term no-man's-land goes back to the early 14th century. The term was first used for a vast wasteland outside the north walls of London where criminals were executed. The term was applied to a little-used area on ships called the forecastle, a place where various ropes, tackle, block, and other supplies were stored. In World War I, traversing no man's land was often a hellish experience for soldiers, ranging from several hundred yards to in some cases as short as 15 yards. Heavily defended by machine guns and riflemen on both sides, it was often riddled with land mines and barbed wire, as well as corpses and wounded soldiers who were not able to make it across the sea of explosions and fire. The area was usually devastated by the warfare, carnage and remains of the artillery. It was open to fire from the opposing trenches and hard going generally slowed down any attempted advance. However, not only were soldiers forced to cross no man's land when advancing, and as the case might be when retreating, but after an attack the stretcher bearers would need to go out into it to bring in the wounded. British poet Wilfred Owen, later killed in action during the war, wrote in a couple of letters: "No Man's Land is pocketmarked like the body of foulest disease and its odour is the breath of cancer...No Man's Land under snow is like the face of the moon, chaotic, crater-ridden, uninhabitable, awful, the abode of madness. Hideous landscapes, vile noises....everything unnatural, broken, blastered; the distortion of the dead, whose unburiable bodies sit outside the dug-outs all day, all night, the most execrable sights on earth." The hell of the no man's land remained largely impenetrable until near the end of World War I, when tanks were able to cross it with little opposition and break the defenders in their trenches. Razor Wire Barbed wire began to be widely used as an implement of war during World War I. Wire was placed either to impede or halt the passage of soldiers, or to channel them into narrow defiles in which small arms, particularly machine guns, and indirect fire could be used with greater effect as they attempted to pass. Artillery bombardments on the Western Front became increasingly aimed at cutting the barbed wire that was a major component of trench warfare, particularly once new "wire- cutting" fuses were introduced midway through the war. As the war progressed the wire was used in shorter lengths that were easier to transport and more difficult to cut with artillery. Other inventions were also a result of the war, such as the screw-picket, which enabled construction of wire obstacles to be done at night in No Man's Land without the necessity of hammering stakes into the ground and drawing attention from the enemy. Flame Thrower The flamethrower, which brought terror to French and British soldiers when used by the German army in the early phases of the First World War in 1914 and 1915 (and which was quickly adopted by both) was by no means a particularly innovative weapon. The basic idea of a flamethrower is to spread fire by launching burning fuel. The earliest flamethrowers date as far back as the 5th century B.C. These took the form of lengthy tubes filled with burning solids (such as coal or sulphur), and which were used in the same way as blow-guns: by blowing into one end of the tube the solid material inside would be propelled towards the operator's enemies. The flamethrower was inevitably refined over the intervening centuries, although the models seen in the early days of World War One were developed at the turn of the 20th century. The German army tested two models of flamethrower - or Flammenwerfer in German - in the early 1900s, one large and one small, both developed by Richard Fiedler. The smaller, lighter Flammenwerfer (the Kleinflammenwerfer) was designed for portable use, carried by a single man. Using pressurised air and carbon dioxide or nitrogen it belched forth a stream of burning oil for as much as 18 metres. Fielder's second, larger model (the Grossflammenwerfer), worked along the same lines but was not suitable for transport by a single person, but whose maximum range was twice that of the smaller model; it could also sustain flames for a (then) impressive forty seconds, although it was decidedly expensive in its use of fuel. Having tested the Flammenwerfer in 1900 the German army deployed it for use in three specialist battalions from 1911 onwards. It was put to initial wartime use against the French in the south-eastern sector of the Western Front from October 1914, although its use was sporadic and went largely unreported. The first notable use of the Flammenwerfer came in a surprise attack launched by the Germans upon the British at Hooge in Flanders. Springing forward at 0315 on 30 July 1915 the Germans made effective use of the portable Flammenwerfer, with gas cylinders strapped to the back of the men responsible for using the instrument, a lit nozzle attached to each cylinder. The effect of the dangerous nature of the surprise attack proved terrifying to the British opposition, although their line, initially pushed back, was stabilised later the same night. In two days of severe fighting the British lost 31 officers and 751 other ranks during the attack. With the success of the Hooge attack, at least so far as the Flammenwerfer was concerned, the German army adopted the device on a widespread basis across all fronts of battle. The Flammenwerfers tended to be used in groups of six during battle, each machine worked by two men. They were used mostly to clear forward defenders during the start of a German attack, preceding their infantry colleagues. They were undeniably useful when used at short-range, but were of limited wider effectiveness, especially once the British and French had overcome their initial alarm at their use. The operators of Flammenwerfer equipment also lived a most dangerous existence. Quite aside from the worries of handling the device - it was entirely feasible that the cylinder carrying the fuel might unexpectedly explode - they were marked men; the British and French poured rifle-fire into the area of attack where Flammenwerfers were used, and their operators could expect no mercy should they be taken prisoner. Their life expectancy was therefore short. The British, intrigued by the possibilities offered by flamethrowers, experimented with their own models. In readiness for the Somme offensive they constructed four sizeable models (weighing two tons each), built directly into a forward trench constructed in No Man's Land a mere 60 yards from the German line. Each was painstakingly constructed piece by piece, although two were destroyed by shellfire prior to 1 July 1916 (the start of the Somme offensive). The remaining two, each with a range of 90 yards, were put to use as planned on 1 July. Again highly effective at clearing trenches at a local level, they were of practically no wider benefit. Their use was consequently abandoned. Similarly the French developed their own portable one-man Schilt flamethrower, of a superior build to the German model. It was used in trench attacks during 1917-18. The Germans produced a lightweight modified version of their Flammenwerfer, the Wex, in 1917, which had the benefit of self- igniting. During the war the Germans launched in excess of 650 flamethrower attacks; no numbers exist for British or French attacks. By the close of the war flamethrower use had been extended to use on tanks, a policy carried forward to World War Two. Flame-throwing equipment, albeit somewhat refined, continues in use to the present day. Long Range Cannon The German advance through Belgium in the summer of 1914, early in the war, demonstrated the value of siege artillery in particular, and all artillery in general. The huge German Krupp 42cm howitzers (Big Berthas) and Austrian Skoda’s pounded the frontier fortresses into submission in only a few day’s time. This lesson was not lost on any of the belligerents, and the race to build and employ bigger and better artillery went into full swing. Let’s review some artillery terminology. There are basically two types of large artillery - the cannon and the howitzer (or mortar). A cannon fires a shell over a long arc and typically hits its target head- on. The howitzer (or mortar) lobs the shell over a high arc so it lands atop its target. Your choice of artillery depends upon the job at hand. Large guns, like handguns, are measured in caliber. This is the diameter of the barrel, and roughly, the shell it fires. Sometimes this measurement is given in inches, other times in centimeters or millimeters (thus a 42cm shell equivalent to a 420mm or 16.5 inch shell). The shells on naval ordnance are separate from the powder charge used to propel them (which is contained in a powder sack) whereas with smaller artillery, the powder charge is built into the shell much like a bullet. The advantage to a separate powder charge is that it allows the same shell type to be used over a wide range of distances by varying the charge. In the Great War, the largest artillery was the naval variety - the guns of the dreadnoughts. These were monster guns for the time, in the 12 to 16 inch class (these would grow larger over the course of the war). These represented powerful and highly accurate produce of the naval arms race and the industrial revolution. The battleship made a perfect platform for guns of such size. After all, what’s a couple of hundred tons when you are dealing with vehicles in the range of 18,000 to 28,000 tons? The water cushion on which the battleship sat also helped absorb the massive recoil generated by these weapons. Even with such high gross weights, many battleships employed lockout mechanisms that prevented two gun turrets from firing at the same time - not as much out of fear of rolling the ship as for the possibility of altering the trajectory of the second salvo by the roll caused by the first. It is interesting to note that several of the large siege guns used against the Belgian fortifications had to be set in concrete before they could be fired due to their massive recoil. Battleships were not an option on the Western Front, but the guns they used were seen as a tool that could help break the stalemate of the trenches - especially when used against the concrete fortified German positions near the Somme and later, the Hindenburg line. The first attempts at employing oversized naval ordnance simply consisted of putting the gun on a wheel mount and attempting to secure it in place. While advanced recoil mechanisms allowed for some success, deployment was still slow and cumbersome. The guns could only be moved slowly by large tractor. A worst case scenario would involve the gun falling into enemy hands in the event of a hasty retreat. Then came the rail gun. Rail presented the perfect transport and firing platform for land based naval ordnance. The gun could be moved relatively quickly along the rail system and the recoil could be dispersed by allowing the carriage to hurtle down the tracks (sometimes up to 100 feet). In some cases, a piece of curved siding was actually used to aim the gun. These guns could fire up to thirty miles and were capable of reaching far into the enemy’s rear positions. The culmination of the rail gun was the massive French Schneider 520mm howitzer. The shells this gun fired were over 24 inches in diameter and weighed 3,100 pounds. They were fused in such a way as to allow the shell to penetrate its target before detonation. Luckily for all involved, the war ended before they could be brought into service. Probably the most discussed of all of the big guns of the Great War is the infamous Paris Gun. Also known as Lange Max (Long Max), Big Bertha (not to be confused with the 42cm Krupp howitzer given the same nick name) and William’s Gun; this gun was strategic, rather than tactical in nature, in that it was a terror weapon meant to demoralize the citizens of Paris. This forerunner to the Iraqi supergun could fire a shell 70 miles in about 170 seconds reaching a maximum altitude of 24 miles - quite a feat of German engineering for 1918. On the down side, the payload was only 15 pounds of explosive, accuracy was non-existent (you could hit Paris but not a specific target in Paris), and the whole gun would have to be rebored after 65 firings. Machine Gun The machine gun, which so came to dominate and even to personify the battlefields of World War One, was a fairly primitive device when general war began in August 1914. Machine guns of all armies were largely of the heavy variety and decidedly ill-suited to portability for use by rapidly advancing infantry troops. Each weighed somewhere in the 30kg-60kg range - often without their mountings, carriages and supplies. The Machine Gun in 1914 The 1914 machine gun, usually positioned on a flat tripod, would require a gun crew of four to six operators. In theory they could fire 400-600 small-calibre rounds per minute, a figure that was to more than double by the war's end, with rounds fed via a fabric belt or a metal strip. The reality however was that these early machine guns would rapidly overheat and become inoperative without the aid of cooling mechanisms; they were consequently fired in short rather than sustained bursts. Cooling generally took one of two forms: water cooled and, increasingly as the war developed, air cooled. Water jackets would provided for the former (which held around one gallon of liquid) and air vents would be built into the machine gun for the latter. Water cooled machine guns would still overheat relatively quickly (sometimes within two minutes), with the consequence that large supplies of water would need to be on hand in the heat of a battle - and, when these ran out, it was not unknown for a machine gun crew to solve the problem by urinating into the jacket. Whether air or water cooled, machine guns still jammed frequently, especially in hot conditions or when used by inexperienced operators. Consequently machine guns would often be grouped together to maintain a constant defensive position. Estimates of their equivalent, accurate, rifle firepower varied, with some estimating a single machine gun to be worth as many as 60-100 rifles: a more consensual figure is around 80, still an impressively high figure. Simple Design In designing his machine gun, Hiram Maxim utilised a simple concept. The gas produced by the explosion of powder in each machine gun cartridge created a recoil which served to continuously operate the machine gun mechanism. No external power was needed. His initial design, which was water cooled and belt fed, allowed for a theoretical rate of fire of up to 600 rounds per minute (half that number in practice). It was heavy however, weighing in at 62kg. German Enthusiasm As already noted the Germans quickly grasped the potential importance of machine guns on the battlefield. From the outset the German army demonstrated the value of the machine gun by creating separate machine gun companies to support infantry battalions. The British however did not create their Machine Gun Corps until October 1915; until this time the few machine guns available were attached in sections to individual battalions. A mere two guns were allocated to each infantry battalion in 1914. Superiority of Defensive Warfare Technology When established in fixed strong-points sited specifically to cover potential enemy attack routes, the machine gun proved a fearsome defensive weapon. Enemy infantry assaults upon such positions invariably proved highly costly. The French in particular found to their cost that the technology of defensive warfare was more advanced than that of offensive warfare. The French pre-war military blueprint, Plan XVII, was founded upon a fundamental assumption of an 'offensive spirit', one which envisaged a rapid war of movement. Early commanders, such as Charles Lanrezac, were dismissed for apparent failures in their implementation of the offensive spirit. Time was to vindicate Lanrezac's doubts. The British similarly found to their repeated cost the futility of massed infantry attacks against well- entrenched defensive positions protected by machine gun cover. The first day of the Somme Offensive amply illustrated this, although the lesson appeared to be lost to the British high command. On the opening day of the offensive the British suffered a record number of single day casualties, 60,000, the great majority lost under withering machine gun fire. The Machine Gun as an Offensive Weapon Understandably most historical accounts of the First World War have tended to emphasise the defensive strengths of the machine gun. Throughout the war efforts were made to produce an infantry assault version, such as the Lewis Light Machine Gun, although these efforts were generally unsatisfactory. Although lighter at around 12kg they were still considered too heavy and bulky for rapidly advancing infantry. Attempts to transport light machine guns by wheeled carriages or pack animals were ultimately unsuccessful: the infantry invariably outpaced such methods. By 1918 however one-man portable machine guns (including the formidable Bergmann MP18 submachine gun) were put to some use (each weighing 9-14kg), although maintaining sufficient ammunition supplies remained a difficulty. Although often not truly portable light machine guns were more readily transported on roads or flat ground by armoured cars. As the war developed machine guns were adapted for use on tanks on broken ground, particularly on the Western Front (where the majority of machine guns were deployed). Light machine guns were adopted too for incorporation into aircraft from 1915 onwards, for example the Vickers, particularly with the German adoption of interrupter equipment, which enabled the pilot to fire the gun through the aircraft's propeller blades. In response to the increasing success of machine guns mounted on aircraft it was perhaps inevitable that machine guns should similarly be developed as anti-aircraft devices (in France and Italy), sometimes mounted on vehicles. Similarly machine guns began to be added to warships as a useful addition to naval armaments. Submarines and Sonar In 1912 the U.S. Navy replaced its submarine gasoline engines with safer and more efficient diesel engines. The oil-burning diesel engine required no complicated ignition, or sparking systems, and it produced fewer noxious fumes. The USS Skipjack (SS-24) and USS Sturgeon (SS-25) were the first U.S. submarines equipped with diesel propulsion. The diesel engine and the electric battery remained the power source for submarines until nuclear power was introduced in the 1950’s. While many modern submarines are still diesel powered, nuclear power has become the propulsion system of choice in US submarine construction. The British Royal Navy's submarine force is also entirely nuclear-powered. The French, Russian, and Chinese Navies use nuclear propulsion for some of their submarines. World War I The United States entered World War I in 1917 with a total of 24 diesel powered submarines. U.S. Navy subs patrolled the waters off the U.S. East Coast and deployed overseas to the Azores and Ireland. The American submarines primary missions were to escort Allied shipping and counter the German U-boat threat. Though there were no confirmed sinkings of U-boats by American submarines the number of German attacks repulsed by near misses showed the submarine to be an effective anti-submarine weapon. However, it was Germany's use of the U-boat in World War I that demonstrated the vital role the submarine would play in the next global conflict. Naval Shipyards & All-Welded Submarines After the war, the U.S. Navy slowly built up its sub force. Construction contracts with commercial shipyards were cut back, forcing the Lake Torpedo Boat Company to go out of business in 1922. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire became one of the largest submarine builders in the U.S. and between 1924 and 1929 the Portsmouth yard designed and built five 381-foot V-class submarines. Between 1932 and 1941, Portsmouth built an additional 22 submarines in the 1500-ton category. It was during this period that the first all-welded submarine, USS Pike (SS-173), was completed. The welded hull allowed Pike to submerge to much greater depths than her predecessors and at the same time provided greater protection against depth-charge attacks. At the start of World War I, Germany had twenty-nine U-boats in service; in the first ten weeks, five British cruisers had been lost to them. In September, U-9 sank the obsolete British warships Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue (the "Live Bait Squadron") in a matter of an hour. For the first few months of the war, U-boat anti-commerce actions observed the current "prize rules" which governed the treatment of enemy civilian ships and their occupants. On 20 October 1914 the U-boat U17 sank the first merchant ship, the SS Glitra off Norway. Surface commerce raiders were proving to be ineffective, and on 4 February 1915, the Kaiser assented to the declaration of a war zone in the waters around the British Isles. This was cited as a retaliation for British minefields and shipping blockades. Under the instructions given to U-boat captains, they could sink merchant ships, potentially neutral ones, without warning. A statement by the U.S. Government, holding Germany "strictly accountable" for any loss of American lives, made no material difference. On 7 May 1915, U-20 sank the liner RMS Lusitania with a single torpedo hit. The sinking claimed 1,198 lives, 128 of them American civilians, including noted theatrical producer Charles Frohman and Alfred Vanderbilt, a member of the prestigious Vanderbilt family. The sinking deeply shocked the Allies and their sympathizers because an unarmed civilian merchant vessel was attacked. According to the ship's manifest, Lusitania was carrying military cargo. After further investigations, it has been confirmed that the Lusitania was in fact carrying bullets and ammunition for the allies to use against the Germans. However, this was not known at the time and the Lusitania was mistaken for a troopship. It was not until the sinking of the ferry "Sussex" that there was a widespread reaction in the USA. The initial U.S. response was to threaten to sever diplomatic relations, which persuaded the Germans to re-impose restrictions on U-boat activity. The U.S. reiterated its objections to German submarine warfare whenever U.S. civilians died as a result of German attacks, which prompted the Germans to fully re-apply prize rules. This, however, removed the effectiveness of the U-boat fleet, and the Germans consequently sought a decisive surface action, a strategy which culminated in the Battle of Jutland. Although the Germans claimed victory at Jutland, the British Grand Fleet remained in control at sea. It was necessary to return to effective anti-commerce warfare by U-boats. Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Commander in Chief of the High Seas Fleet, pressed for all-out U-boat war, convinced that a high rate of shipping losses would force Britain to seek an early peace before the United States could react effectively. The renewed German campaign was effective, sinking 1.4 million tons of shipping between October 1916 and January 1917. Despite this, the political situation demanded even greater pressure, and on 31 January 1917, Germany announced that its U-boats would engage in unrestricted submarine warfare beginning 1 February. On 17 March, German submarines sank three American merchant vessels, and the U.S. declared war on Germany in April 1917. In the end, the German strategy failed to destroy sufficient Allied shipping, largely due to the introduction of escorted convoys, before U.S. manpower and materiel could be brought to bear in France. However, the main reason for the ending of the war was the effectiveness of the British blockade of Germany which brought about an economic collapse. An armistice became effective on 11 November 1918 and all surviving German submarines were surrendered. Of the 360 submarines that had been built, 178 were lost but more than 11 million tons of shipping had been sunk. Sonar Sonar is a system for detecting submarine sound in the water. It was first developed by the British for use against U-boats in World War I. Radar uses radio waves to detect objects on and above the land and sea surface. Radar was developed in the 1930s to detect aircraft. John J Pershing Pershing with his wife Helen and three of their children. In January 1914, Pershing was assigned to command the Army 8th Cavalry Regiment in Fort Bliss, Texas, responsible for security along the U.S.-Mexico border. In March 1916, under the command of General Frederick Funston, Pershing led the 8th Regiment on the failed 1916–17 Punitive Expedition into Mexico in search of the revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. He had met him in 1913 when he invited him to Fort Bliss. During this time, George S. Patton served as one of Pershing's aides. World War I Major General Pershing of the National Army At the start of the United States' involvement in World War I President Woodrow Wilson considered mobilizing an army to join the fight. Frederick Funston, Pershing's superior in Mexico, was being considered for the top billet as the Commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) when he died suddenly from a heart attack on February 19, 1917. Following America's entrance into the war, Wilson, after a short interview, named Pershing to command, a post which he retained until 1918. Pershing, who was a major general, was promoted to full general (the first since Philip Sheridan in 1888) in the National Army, and was made responsible for the organization, training, and supply of a combined professional and draft Army and National Guard force that eventually grew from 27,000 inexperienced men to two Armies (a third was forming as the war ended) totalling over two million soldiers. Pershing exercised significant control over his command, with a full delegation of authority from Wilson and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. Baker, cognizant of the endless problems of domestic and allied political involvement in military decision making in wartime, gave Pershing unmatched authority to run his command as he saw fit. In turn, Pershing exercised his prerogative carefully, not engaging in issues that might distract or diminish his command. While earlier a champion of the African-American soldier, he did not champion their full participation on the battlefield, understanding widespread racial attitudes among white Americans generally, plus Wilson's reactionary views on race and the political debts he owed to southern Democratic law makers. Pershing at General Headquarters in Chaumont, France, October 1918. After departing from Fort Jay at Governors Island in New York Harbor under top secrecy in May 1917, Pershing arrived in France in June 1917. In a show of American presence, part of the 16th Infantry Regiment marched through Paris shortly after his arrival. Pausing at Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette's tomb, he was reputed to have uttered the famous line "Lafayette, we are here." The morale-boosting line was in fact spoken by his aide, Colonel Charles E. Stanton. American forces were deployed in France in the autumn of 1917. World War I: 1918 and full American participation In early 1918, entire divisions were beginning to serve on the front lines alongside French troops. Pershing insisted that the AEF fight as units under American command rather than being split up by battalions to augment British and French regiments and brigades (although the U.S. 27th and 30th divisions, loaned during the desperate days of spring 1918, fought with the British/Australian/Canadian Fourth Army until the end of the war, taking part in the breach of the Hindenburg Line in October). In October 1918, Pershing saw the need for a dedicated military police corps and the first US Army MP School was established at Autun, France. For this, he is considered the "founding father" of the MPs. Because of the effects of trench warfare on soldiers' feet, in January, 1918, Pershing oversaw the creation of an improved combat boot, the "1918 Trench Boot," which became known as the "Pershing Boot" upon its introduction. American forces first saw serious action during the summer of 1918, contributing eight large divisions, alongside 24 French ones, at the Second Battle of the Marne. Along with the Fourth Army's victory at Amiens, the Franco-American victory at the Second Battle of the Marne marked the turning point of the war on the Western Front. In August 1918 the U.S. First Army had been formed, first under Pershing's direct command and then by Hunter Liggett, when the U.S. Second Army under Robert Bullard was created. After a quick victory at Saint-Mihiel, east of Verdun, some of the more bullish AEF commanders had hoped to push on eastwards to Metz, but this did not fit in with the plans of the Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Foch, for three simultaneous offensives into the "bulge" of the Western Front (the other two being the Fourth Army's breach of the Hindenburg Line and an Anglo-Belgian offensive, led by Plumer's Second Army, in Flanders). Instead, the AEF was required to redeploy and, aided by French tanks, launched a major offensive northwards in very difficult terrain at Meuse-Argonne. Initially enjoying numerical odds of eight to one, this offensive eventually engaged 35 or 40 of the 190 or so German divisions on the Western Front, although to put this in perspective, around half the German divisions were engaged on the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) sector at the time. When he arrived in Europe, Pershing had openly scorned the slow trench warfare of the previous three years on the Western Front, believing that American soldiers' skill with the rifle would enable them to avoid costly and senseless fighting over a small area of no man's land. This was regarded as unrealistic by British and French generals, and (privately) by a number of American generals such as Army Chief of Staff Tasker H. Bliss and his own Hunter Liggett. The AEF had done well in the relatively open warfare of the Second Battle of the Marne, but the eventual U.S. casualty rates against German defensive positions in the Argonne (120,000 U.S. casualties in six weeks, against 35 or 40 German divisions) were not noticeably better than those of the Franco-British offensive on the Somme two years earlier (600,000 casualties in four and a half months, versus 50 or so German divisions). More ground was gained, but then the German Army was in worse shape than in previous years. In his memoirs, Pershing claimed that the U.S. breakout from the Argonne at the start of November was the decisive event leading to the German acceptance of an armistice, because it made untenable the Antwerp-Meuse line. This is probably an exaggeration; the outbreak of civil unrest and naval mutiny in Germany, the collapse of Bulgaria, Turkey, and particularly Austria-Hungary following Allied victories in Salonika, Syria, and Italy, and the Allied victories on the Western Front were among a series of events in the autumn of 1918 which made it clear that Allied victory was inevitable, and diplomatic inquiries about an armistice had been going on throughout October. President Wilson was keen to tie matters up before the mid-term elections,and the other Allies did not have the strength to defeat Germany without U.S. help, so had little choice but to follow Wilson's lead. American successes were largely credited to Pershing, and he became the most celebrated American leader of the war. Critics,however, claimed that Pershing commanded from far behind the lines and was critical of commanders who personally led troops into battle. Douglas MacArthur saw Pershing as a desk soldier, and the relationship between the two men deteriorated by the end of the war. Similar criticism of senior commanders by the younger generation of officers (the future generals of World War II) was made in the British and other armies, but in fairness to Pershing, although it was not uncommon for brigade commanders to serve near the front and even be killed, the state of communications in World War I made it more practical for senior generals to command from the rear. He controversially ordered his troops to continue fighting after the armistice was signed. This resulted in 3,500 U.S. casualties on the last day of the war, an act which was regarded as murder by several officers under his command. Battle of Argonne Forest The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, also called the Battle of the Argonne Forest, was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire western front. The whole offensive was planned by Marshall Ferdinand Foch to breach the Hindenburg line and ultimately force the opposing German forces to capitulate. The big September/October Allied breakthroughs (north, centre and south) across the length of the Hindenburg Line - including the Battle of the Argonne Forest - are now lumped together as part of what is generally remembered as the Grand Offensive (also known as the Hundred Days Offensive) by the Allies on the Western front. The Meuse-Argonne offensive also involved troops from France, while France, Britain and its dominion and imperial armies (mainly Canada, Australia and New Zealand), and Belgium contributed to major battles in other sectors across the whole front. The French and British armies' ability to fight unbroken over the whole four years of the war in what amounted to a bloody stalemate is credited by some historians with breaking the spirit of the German Army on the Western Front. The Grand Offensive, including British, French and Belgian advances in the north along with the French-American advances around the Argonne forest, is in turn credited for leading directly to the Armistice on November 11. On September 26, the Americans began their strike towards Sedan in the south; British and Belgian divisions drove towards Ghent (Belgium) on the 27th, and then British and French armies attacked across northern France on the 28th. The scale of the overall offensive, bolstered by the fresh and eager but largely untried and inexperienced U.S. troops, signaled renewed vigor among the Allies and sharply dimmed German hopes for victory. The objective was the capture of the railroad hub at Sedan which would break the rail net supporting the German Army in France and Flanders. Although the Meuse-Argonne was "probably the bloodiest single battle in U.S. history", in the sense that it had the largest number of U.S. dead in a single battle, it is little remembered today in the U.S. Its battleground memorials are neglected by most American visitors to Europe, though Europeans pay more attention to them and other World War I battlegrounds and memorials. The battle also hailed the debut of the Browning Automatic Rifle in combat, with both the US and France using them significantly for the first time in battle. According to the American view , the battle's pressure on the Germans was an important factor in their agreeing to the armistice: "Until the last, this battle had worried German commanders most; unlike other sectors of the front, here they had little space short of a vital objective that they could afford to trade for time." Many historians have since began to debate the legitimacy of this claim, with many believing that the Meuse-Argonne offensive was simply a diversion from greater allied offensives and successes elsewhere. It was the turning point in the war in favor of the Allies. Alfred Mahan “Father of the Navy” Alfred Thayer Mahan (September 27, 1840 – December 1, 1914) was a United States Navy flag officer, geostrategist, and educator. His ideas on the importance of sea power influenced navies around the world, and helped prompt naval buildups before World War I. Several ships were named USS Mahan, including the lead vessel of a class of destroyers. His research into naval history led to his most important work, The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660-1783, published in 1890. Early life Born at West Point, New York, to Dennis Hart Mahan (a professor at the United States Military Academy) and Mary Helena Mahan, he attended Saint James School, an Episcopal college preparatory academy in western Maryland. He then studied at Columbia for two years where he was a member of the Philolexian Society debating club and then, against his parents' wishes, transferred to the Naval Academy, where he graduated second in his class in 1859. Commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1861, Mahan served the Union in the American Civil War as an officer on Congress, Pocahontas, and James Adger, and as an instructor at the Naval Academy. In 1865 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and then to Commander (1872), and Captain (1885). As commander of the U.S.S. Wachusett was stationed at Callao, Peru, protecting American interests during the final stages of the War of the Pacific. Despite his professed success in the Navy, his skills in actual command of a ship were not exemplary, and a number of vessels under his command were involved in collisions, with both moving and stationary objects. He had an affection for old square-rigged vessels, and did not like smoky, noisy steamships of his time; he tried to avoid active sea duty. On the other hand, the books he wrote ashore made him arguably the most influential naval historian of the period. In pointing out how unlikely his ascent was Kyle Whitney compared his chances of achieving prominence in the navy to that of "a cheerleader becoming president". Naval War College and writings In 1885, he was appointed lecturer in naval history and tactics at the Naval War College. Before entering on his duties, College President Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce pointed Mahan in the direction of writing his future studies on the influence of sea power. For his first year on the faculty, he remained at his home in New York City researching and writing his lectures. Upon completion of this research period, he was to succeed Luce as President of the Naval War College from June 22, 1886 to January 12, 1889 and again from July 22, 1892 to May 10, 1893. There, in 1887, he met and befriended a young visiting lecturer named Theodore Roosevelt, who would later become president of the United States. During this period Mahan organized his Naval War College lectures into his most influential books, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783, and The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793–1812, published 1890 and 1892, respectively. Upon being published, Mahan struck up a friendship with pioneering British naval historian Sir John Knox Laughton, the pair maintaining this relationship through correspondence and visits when Mahan was in London. Mahan was later described as a 'disciple' of Laughton, although the two men were always at pains to distinguish between each other's line of work, Laughton seeing Mahan as a theorist while Mahan called Laughton 'the historian'. Strategic views and influence Mahan's views were shaped by the eighteenth century naval wars between France and Britain, where British naval superiority eventually defeated France, consistently preventing invasion and blockade, (see Napoleonic war: Battle of Trafalgar and Continental System). To a modern reader, the emphasis on controlling seaborne commerce is a commonplace, but, in the nineteenth century, the notion was radical, especially in a nation entirely obsessed with expansion on to the continent's western land. On the other hand, Mahan's emphasising sea power, as the crucial fact behind Britain's ascension, neglected the well-documented roles of diplomacy and armies; Mahan's theories could not explain the success of terrestrial empires, such as Bismarckian Germany. However, as the Royal Navy's blockade of the German Empire was a critical direct and indirect factor in the eventual German collapse, Mahan's theories were vindicated by the First World War. Ideologically, the United States Navy initially opposed replacing its sailing ships with steam-powered ships after the Civil War, however, Mahan argued that only a fleet of armoured battleships might be decisive in a modern war. According to the decisive-battle doctrine, a fleet must not be divided; Mahan's work encouraged technological improvement in convincing opponents that naval knowledge and strategy remained necessary, but that domination of the seas dictated the necessity of the speed and predictability of the steam engine. His books were greatly acclaimed, and closely studied in Britain and Imperial Germany, influencing their forces build up before World War I. Mahan influenced the naval portion of the Spanish- American War, and the battles of Tsushima, Jutland, and the Atlantic. His work influenced the doctrines of every major navy in the interwar period; The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660- 1783 was translated to Japanese and used as a textbook in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). This strongly affected the IJN's Pacific War conduct, emphasising the "decisive battle" doctrine — even at the expense of protecting trade. The IJN's pursuit of the "decisive battle" was such that it contributed to Imperial Japan's defeat in 1945, and so rendered obsolete the doctrine of the decisive battle between fleets, because of the development of the submarine and the aircraft carrier. However, one could argue that the IJN did not adhere entirely to Mahan's doctrine, as they did divide their main force from time to time, and such sealed their own defeat. Nevertheless, Mahan's concept of sea power extended beyond naval superiority; that in peace time, states should increase production and shipping capacities, acquire overseas possessions — either colonies or privileged access to foreign markets — yet stressed that the number of coal fuel stations and strategic bases should be few, not to drain too many resources from the mother country. Later career Between 1889 and 1892 Mahan was engaged in special service for the Bureau of Navigation, and in 1893 he was appointed to command the powerful new protected cruiser Chicago on a visit to Europe, where he was received and feted. He returned to lecture at the War College and then, in 1896, he retired from active service, returning briefly to duty in 1898 to consult on naval strategy for the Spanish-American War. Mahan continued to write voluminously and received honorary degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, and McGill. In 1902 Mahan invented the term "Middle East", which he used in the article "The Persian Gulf and International Relations", published in September in the National Review. He became Rear Admiral in 1906 by an act of Congress promoting all retired captains who had served in the Civil War. At the outbreak of World War I, he initially engaged in the cause of Great Britain, but an order of President Woodrow Wilson prohibited all active and retired officers from publishing comments on the war. Mahan died of heart failure on December 1, 1914. Second Battle of the Marne The Second Battle of the Marne (French: 2e Bataille de la Marne), or Battle of Reims (15 July to 6 August 1918) was the last major German Spring Offensive on the Western Front during World War I. It failed when an Allied counterattack led by French forces overwhelmed the Germans, inflicting severe casualties. The Germans ordered a retreat on 20 July and were forced all the way back to the positions where they had started their Spring Offensives earlier in the year. They strengthened their flank positions opposite the Allied pincers, on the 22nd, Ludendorff ordered to take up a line from the upper Ourcq to Marfaux. The Allied commanders continuously sending their troops forward towards the 'mincing machine' to fight costly battles for odd 500-yard gains. By the 27th the Germans had been able to withdraw their center behind Fère-en-Tardenois and complete an alternative rail link while still holding Soissons in the west. On 1 August French and British divisions of Mangin's Tenth Army broke through to a depth of nearly five miles. The Allied counter-attack petered out on 6 August when well-entrenched German troops ground it to a halt. The Second Battle of the Marne was an overwhelming victory, Ferdinand Foch received the baton of a Marshal of France. The Allies had taken 29,367 prisoners, 793 guns and 3,000 MGs but the Germans were by no means crushed. They had suffered total casualties of 168,000 since 15 July. The Western Front had been shortened by 28 miles, the moral importance of the decision gained on the Marne was that it marked the end of a string of German victories and the beginning of a series of Allied successes that were, in a mere three months, to bring the German Army to its knees. The disastrous German defeat led to the cancellation of Ludendorff's planned invasion of Flanders and was the first step in a series of Allied victories that ended the war. This battle marked the beginning of a German withdrawal that was never reversed.
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