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Trench Warfare in World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Return to Book Page. Preview — Trench Warfare by Anthony Saunders. Trench Warfare by Anthony Saunders. Although many books have been published about the Western Front, few of them look beyond the Great War to consider trench warfare in a wider historical context. Trench warfare was not an aberration of the Western Front.

On the contrary, it was a watershed in a greater upheaval in warfare which started in the s and continued well beyond the First World War.


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This book ex Although many books have been published about the Western Front, few of them look beyond the Great War to consider trench warfare in a wider historical context. The book examines the evolution of trench warfare, technologically and tactically, from the Crimean War to the Korean War, during which time developments in military technology often advanced far beyond tactical thinking. Trench Warfare discusses the impact of trench warfare on military thinking and considers how the stalemate of the Western Front was overcome.

Emergency technologies, from the hand grenade to the tank, are discussed to highlight their impact on trench warfare and, ultimately, on warfare as a whole.

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Tactically, trench warfare led to the development of the concept of deep battle which was later employed by the Red Army in the Second World War. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Other Editions 1.

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To ask other readers questions about Trench Warfare , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Trench Warfare Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Isolated, the First Army was forced to beat a hasty retreat. The Allied forces were hugely relieved that Paris was saved, but were wary and worn out after the long spell on the defensive.

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To their dismay, the Allied armies discovered that the Germans had found a very strong position on the high Chemin de Dames Ridge on the northern bank of the Aisne, between the valleys formed by the rivers Aisne and Ailette. There they had dug a trench. The artillery had acted in support of the infantry rather than the other way round, long spells of marching between battles had been the norm, and the side that won had been the one most capable of pummelling the enemy in a firefight at a range of yards. Frustrated, the Allies first scaled back, then abandoned their attack when it became plain that neither side was going to gain any ground.

The first stalemate of World War One had been reached.

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Trench Warfare 1850-1950

Reluctantly, the Allies too began to dig. They expected to move on again almost straight away, but remained in that first trench for a week as the fighting continued to the north. From now on, most battles would be fought trench-to-trench. Even when they reached the sea, neither side would claim a win as the Belgians, already in situ, opened sluice gates and flooded the countryside to prevent the Germans from taking Antwerp.

This was not a war that would be over by Christmas after all. A wire spiked with metallic points, barbed wire—called artificial bramble—was invented in the mids in the United States. At the time it was intended to enclose the gigantic properties of the Wild West, and to allow farmers to save on the labour needed to watch over livestock. However, the military quickly took interest in the properties of this new material, which was soon used on battlefields, notably during the Boer wars and the Russo-Japanese War of Yet it was during The Great War that this artificial bramble was the most massively deployed.

An example among many others is the area of Saint-Laurent-Blangy, a village north of Arras held by the 47th infantry regiment of Saint-Malo during the winter of , which gives a precise idea of the quantities of barbed wire that were placed by the warring countries during the course of the conflict.


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  • Combatant testimonies help depict this vast protective network from ground level , one that was interspersed with metal stakes such that the wires erected a spiky, sharp, and impassable rail of sorts, able to lacerate possible intruders. The generic term barbed wire in fact ultimately conceals a number of objects serving approximately the same function. Similarly, the famous Brun entanglement, a large coil of iron wire spiked with tips, was stretched across the length of the trench or the tunnel needing protection.

    This particularly dangerous form of work could only be done at night or on foggy days to avoid the risk of enemy snipers. In doing so, barbed wire and other accessory defences relate to the very nature of trench warfare, a tactical equation that, in many respects, resembles a sort of reciprocal siege warfare in which both sides lay siege to the other. Coils of barbed wire, 5 March Yet this reality does not fit well with ideological and strategic precepts that impose offensives. A formidably effective fortification when used defensively, barbed wire was, on the contrary, highly penalizing in an offensive situation.

    Unlike human beings, whose vigilance can always be caught off guard, accessory defences are continually effective, even when the assault has ended and the survivors have returned to their trenches. Barbed wire thus developed into a formidable psychological weapon, a kind of clothesline on which the corpses of combatants dried for days, as though pinned up like a sinister hunting trophy. Numerous authors insisted on the dehumanizing character of the violence practiced on the battlefields of World War One.

    Barbed wire certainly had an essential role in this process, which at least unconsciously did not escape contemporaries. Walking on battlefields a century after the events, one can still find some of these metallic vestiges, which incidentally can offer reminders of their intact effectiveness to the clumsy.