Share
Explore BrainMass

World War I: German and Allied Tactical Assault Methods

Please provide some additional input on the following question to further broaden my perspective of WWI:

1. Compare the Allied and German tactical methods of assault on the Western Front in 1918 with those practiced from 1915 to 1917.

2. How do the methods from the two different time periods compare in terms of casualties for the attacker?

Solution Preview

Interesting, and somewhat complex questions indeed. Please see response attached. I hope this helps you to understand WWI more thoroughly, especially in relation to your presented questions. Take care.

1. Compare the Allied and German tactical methods of assault on the Western Front in 1918 with those practiced from 1915 to 1917.
It is important to keep a clear idea of who is fighting whom.
Note: The Allies of World War I are sometimes also referred to as the Entente Powers or Entente Forces. The main allies were the French Third Republic, Russia, the British Empire, Italy and the United States. France, Russia and Britain entered World War I in 1914, as a result of their Triple Entente alliance. Many other countries later joined the allied side in the war - see Participants in World War I . The Central Powers (German: Mittelmächte) were the nations of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria, which fought against the Allies during World War I. They are called this because they all were located between Russia in the east and France and the United Kingdom in the west (see map http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_I).
In my last response, we discussed the tactical methods on the Western Front in 1918. Briefly, let's review the technologies and tactics used in WWI:
Tactics and technologies (excerpted from on-line source):

 The First World War was a clash of 20th century technology with 19th century tactics. This time, millions of soldiers, both volunteers and conscripts fought on all sides, with Kitchener's Army being a notable all volunteer force.
 Much of the war's combat involved trench warfare, where hundreds often died for each metre of land gained. Many of the deadliest battles in history occurred during the First World War. Such battles include Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Marne, Cambrai, Somme, Verdun, and Gallipoli. Artillery was responsible for the largest number of casualties during the First World War.
 The First World War also saw the use of chemical warfare and aerial bombardment, both of which had been outlawed under the 1907 Hague Convention.
- Chemical warfare was a major distinguishing factor of the war. Gases used ranged from tear gas to disabling chemicals such as mustard gas and killing agents like phosgene. Only a small proportion of total war casualties were caused by gas, but it achieved harassment and psychological effects. Effective countermeasures to gas were found in gas masks and hence in the later stages of the war, as the use of gas increased, in many cases its effectiveness was diminished.
- Fixed-wing aircraft were first used militarily during the First World War. Initial uses consisted primarily of reconnaissance, though this developed into ground-attack and fighter duties as well. Strategic bombing aircraft were created principally by the Germans and British, though the former used Zeppelins to this end as well.
- U-boats (submarines) were used in combat shortly after the war began. Alternating between restricted and unrestricted submarine warfare during the First Battle of the Atlantic, they were employed by the Kaiserliche Marine in a strategy of defeating the British Empire through a tonnage war. The deaths of British merchantmen and the invulnerability of U-boats led to the development of several countermeasures: depth charges (1916), hydrophones (passive sonar, 1917), blimps, hunter-killer submarines (HMS R-1, 1917), ahead-throwing weapons, & dipping hydrophones (both abandoned 1918). To extend their operations, the Germans proposed supply submarines (1916). Most of these would be forgotten in the interwar period until World War II revived the need.
- Tanks were introduced in World War I by the British and created mechanized warfare that dominated the rest of the 20th century. The first tank was nicknamed Mother. The first use of tanks was during the Battle of the Somme on 15 September 1916. This was not as successful as intended, but as a start the tanks proved their value against the machine gun. Trenches, the machine gun, air reconnaissance, barbed wire, and modern artillery with fragmentation shells helped stalemate the battle lines of World War I by making massed infantry attacks deadly for the attacker. The infantry was armed mostly with a bolt action magazine rifle, but the machine gun with the ability to fire hundreds of rounds per minute stalemated infantry attacks as a defensive weapon; therefore, the British sought a solution and created the tank. Their first use proved tanks needed infantry support and massed formations, but within a year the British were fielding tanks by the hundreds and showed their potential during the Battle of Cambrai, in November 1917, breaking the Hindenburg Line while capturing 8000 enemy and 100 artillery guns.
- Dirigible balloons were used as stationary reconnaissance points on the front lines. Balloons commonly had a crew of two with parachutes: upon an enemy air attack on the flammable balloon the balloon crew would parachute out. Recognized for their value as observer platforms, they were important targets of enemy aircraft; fixed, they were also heavily defended by antiaircraft guns. Blimps and balloons helped contribute to the stalemate of the trench warfare of World War I, and the dirigible balloons contributed to air to air combat among the aircraft to defend the skies for air superiority due to its significant reconnaissance value. The Germans conducted air raids during 1915 and 1916 on England and London with dirigible balloons with the intent of damaging the morale and will to fight of the British and cause aircraft to be reassigned to England away from the front lines. Dirigible balloons were part of the new found aerial warfare of World War I.
- In ...

Solution Summary

This solution compares the Allied and German tactical methods of assault on the Western Front in 1918 with those practiced from 1915 to 1917. It also discusses how the methods from the two different time periods compares in terms of casualties for the attacker.

$2.19