The Reasons Why British Soldiers Went to War in 1914

The Reasons Why British Soldiers Went to War in 1914

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The Reasons Why British Soldiers Went to War in 1914

Britain went to war because it saw a German victory as a threat to its
security. For centuries, Britain had fought to maintain the balance of
power in Europe, to ensure that no state became over mighty. Britain
was also highly sensitive about Belgium and declared war on Germany in
response to Belgium's invasion. In the hands of an enemy, Belgian
ports offered a major threat to the British naval supremacy and hence
the security of the British Isles. Britain had no real option but to
go to war in 1914. The Germans did not believe that Britain would go
to war over their 1839 treaty with Belgium, which they described as a
'scrap of paper'.

As early as 7 August 1914 the appeal was launched for the first
100,000 men between the ages of 19 and 30 to enlist for 3 years or for
the duration of the war. The immediate response was remarkable with
enlistment reaching 30,000 a day. The people came from different
classes and backgrounds. The war minister, Field-Marshall Lord
Kitchener, decided Britain would need more men to help defeat Germany.
A combination of well-designed posters and passionate recruitment
speeches encouraged thousands of men to join the armed forces. A wave
of patriotic enthusiasm swept across the country.
Hundreds of boys falsified birth dates to meet the minimum age
requirements. Desperate for soldiers, recruiting officers didn't
always check the boy's details very carefully. A sixteen year-old told
of how he was able to join the army: "The recruiting sergeant asked me
my age and when I told him he said, 'You had better go out, come in
again, and tell me different.' I came back, told him I was nineteen
and I was in."

At the outbreak of the WWI many enlisted because it was thought to be
a great adventure, something that would change boys to men, rescue men
from a humdrum life and be a test of courage. For others it was out of
patriotism - as a wave of patriotic enthusiasm swept across the

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country most soldiers felt they would be fighting for their home and
country. The belief around Britain at the time was that it would all
be over by Christmas. Others saw the army as an opportunity to travel
or to get away from strict parents. Lord Kitchener avoided introducing
conscription by inviting men to volunteer with their friends, family
and colleagues to form Pals Battalions. He knew that men would be more
willing to join up if they could serve with people they already knew.
Men also enlisted due to peer pressure. Some had their doubts but if
everyone else was going they didn't want to be left out. For the
soldiers already in the British army the decision to go to war was not
as difficult. A professional soldier takes an oath, is trained and
respects the hierarchy of the Army. Throughout the war the government,
as a way to get men to enlist, used women. Women were encouraged to
having nothing to do with men who didn't do their 'duty', but instead
encourage those who did. White feathers were handed out by women to
young men not in uniform. Women were used in campaigns to help
persuade men to enlist. One of the major campaigns used to make men
enrol was the 1915 poster with a little girl asking her Father "Daddy,
what did you do in the Great War?" Trying to make men feel guilty
worked and many signed up, as they believed that women would not
respect them if they did not fight.

Question 2: Why was there a stalemate during the First World War on
the Western front?

The Western Front was ground to a halt by the end of 1914 due to a
number of reasons. The main reason for this, however, was the failure
of the Shlieffen Plan. This plan was to fight a war on two fronts;
first Germany would concentrate forces against France, which would
knock it out in six weeks and then move soldiers across onto the
Eastern front and fight the Russians, whom they expected to take a
long time to mobilise. The Germans marched to invade France, and this
could only be done by attacking through neutral Belgium. The Belgians
heroically resisted and although they were crushed by the German
advance, they slowed them down and the Germans did not reach Paris in
6 weeks.

So now, instead of surrounding Paris, the armies came towards it from
the east. As the advance continued, its impetus slowed up and there
were now problems with food supplies and ammunition - there were small
supplies of both of those items and the troops were also very
exhausted for

There was a stalemate on the western front (an area stretching from
Belgium all the way down to the Alps) because by 1914 technology and
industrialism had overtaken military strategy and tactics, making them
obsolete. Machine guns and rapid-fire artillery had made the tactics
worthless; tactics and cavalry charges were things of the past by
1914.

The real cause was the trench system but this was made worse by the
Generals on both sides using the same old plans and fighting tactics
day after day, week after week for years. Even when a new weapon was
developed, like the tanks, it wasn't used quickly enough, or in large
enough numbers to make any difference for a long time.

The eastern front was also a major factor in causing a stalemate on
the western front. Germany had always been scared of the massive land
mass and population of Russia. Germany after its failure in the
Shlieffen plan had to move a few millions troops back to the eastern
front to fight the mobilizing Russians. This of course meant that the
German western front generals had less troops to fight and attack
with, (they were meant to have taken France out already) and the fact
that if they loss soldiers they would have no reinforcement must have
forced the German generals to decide to go onto a defensive stance
leading to the Trench warfare system. This mean that the Germans dug
themselves in deep and well making it hard for any western advances
hence the stalemate situation on the western Front. The Russian
communist revolution also had a big impact on creating stalemate on
the western front, in 1917 the Russians gave up there war on Germany
due to the new leadership under Lenin, this know meant that the
Germans after losing some ground in the eastern front were able to
bring back German troops to help reinforce the western front causing
more stalemate.

First of all, enormous bombardments preceded infantry charges in which
literally thousand of men ran, or sometimes even walked, across open
ground towards enemy defences, often carrying a heavy pack only with a
single shot rifle and grenades. As they reached the enemy, they were
held up by the barbed wire, as they tried to find their way through
it, they were shot down in their thousands by machine guns. Cannons
were invented that could fire ten rounds a minute at a range of about
ten miles.

At the Battle of the Somme, The Germans were supposed to make up
ground by having strong forces held at high ground. Both Britain and
Germany sent in several hundred thousand troops, who were supposed to
deliver a devastating bombardment over a wide front. It meant that in
the centre of the attack, his cavalry along with assaulting infantry -
could drive through the gap free from interference by the enemy fire
from the flanks.
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