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World War One Battlefield Tactics

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The First World War witnessed an appalling number of casualties. Due partly to this fact, some historians, developed the perception that commanders on both sides depended on only one disastrous approach to breaking the stalemate. These historians attributed the loss of life to the reliance on soldiers charging across no-man’s land only to be mowed down by enemy machineguns. The accuracy of this, however, is fallacious because both the German’s and Allies developed and used a variety of tactics during the war. The main reason for battlefield success and eventual victory by the Allies came from the transformation of battlefield tactics; nevertheless, moral played a major role by greatly affecting the development of new tactics and the final outcome of the war.

Tactics during the early stages of the war led to the massacre of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and a huge loss in moral by the Allies. Originally the Allies employed Napoleonic Era tactics that relied heavily on infantry lining up shoulder to shoulder and advancing across open fields. The French further claimed that if they attacked with superior moral they could overcome any foe. Due to the widespread utilization of machine guns and long-range rifles, these tactics resulted in enormous casualties. The French and British, as well, continued to funnel soldiers into failed offensives, even if the battle resulted in little or no gain, which further led to a decline in moral. With thousands of soldiers’ dead, the armies could not continue to fight with these tactics or the armies would cease to exist or soldiers would refuse to continue to fight.

When Allied soldiers began to refuse to return to the front lines their officers, in response, made compromises to retain what l...

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...ced to retreat or be cut off from their supplies. The German High Command, at this point, knew that they could no longer continue to fight and needed to surrender or face annihilation.

Tactical changes within both main armies fighting on the Western Front would eventually lead to battlefield success for both sides while leading to an impending victory by the Allies. The Germans on one hand developed the use of combined arms, Stormtroopers. These soldiers while extremely successful also led to a destruction of the German moral and reserves due to high casualty rates. On the other side, the Allies stymied their original failures in tactics by maintaining moral and developing their own tactics. These new tactics included the creeping barrage, difeme en profondeur, and bite and hold. By combing these with a genuine strategy the allies overcame the weakened German Army.
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