Battle of Verdun
Chief of the German General Staff, Falkenhayn decided in early 1916 to concentrate on killing enemy soldiers. Hoped that the Allies would finally lack the troops to continue the war. He chose to attack the French city in Verdun to the last man.
The bombardment began on February 21, 1916, was the largest and longest battle in World War I on the Western Front between the Germans and French armies, which took place on the hill north of Verdun-ser mease in North Eastern of France.
French general Joffre, felt that the loss of Verdun would damage French morale. In spring and summer, the French forces held off attackers, as Falkenhayn predicted, France kept pouring men in to the battle. Falkenhayn hadn’t expected the battle to take nearly as many German lives as French lives. He halted the unsuccessful assault in July 1916. Hindenburg and Ludendorff replaced Falkenhayn on the Western Front. As they planned German strategy.
French General Henri Petain had organized the defense of Verdun and was hailed as a hero by France.
The battle became a symbol of the terrible destruct of the modern war. French casualties totaled about 315,000 men and German casualties about 280,000.
The city itself was destroyed. Lasted until December 18, 1916, which lasted for 303 days.
Battle of Somme
The Allies planned a major offensive for 1916 near the Somme River in France. Fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire, became mainly the responsibility of the British under General Douglas Haig.
Douglas Haig (1861-1928), was a senior officer of the British Army. During the First World War he commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front from late 1915 until the end of the war. He was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the battle with one of the highest casualties in British military history, the Third Battle of Ypres, and the Hundred Days Offensive, which led to the armistice of 11 November 1918.
Although he had gained a favourable reputation during the immediate post-war years, with his funeral becoming a day of national mourning, Haig has since the 1960s become an object of criticism for his leadership during the First World War. He was nicknamed “Butcher Haig” for the two million British casualties endured under his command. The Canadian War Museum comments, “His epic but costly offensives at the Somme (1916) and Passchendaele (1917) have become nearly synonymous with the carnage and futility of First World War battles.”
Major-General Sir John Davidson, one of Haig’s biographers, praised Haig’s leadership, and since the 1980s some historians have argued that the public hatred in which Haig’s name had come to be held failed to recognise the adoption of new tactics and technologies by forces under his command, the important role played by British forces in the Allied victory of 1918, and that high casualties were a consequence of the tactical and strategic realities of the time.
The Allies attacked on July 1, 1916, the British had suffered nearly 60,000 casualties, was a worst loss in one day of battle. In September, Britain introduced the first primitive tanks. The tanks were too unreliable and too few in number to make a difference in the battle. Haig finally halted the useless attack in November. On terrible cost, the Allies had gained about 7 miles (11 kilometers). The battle caused more than million casualties over 600,000 German, over 400,000 British and 200,000 French.
In 1915 and 1916, World War I spread to Italy and throughout the Balkans, and activity increased on other fronts. Allied military leaders believed that the creation of new battle fronts would break the deadlock on the Western Front. But the war’s expansion had little effect on the deadlock.
Italy had stayed out of the war since in 1914, even though it was a member of the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany. Italy claimed that it was under no obligation to honor the agreement because Austria-Hungary hadn’t gone to war in self-defense. In May 1915, Italy entered the war on the side of the Allies. A secret treaty, which the Allies promised to give Italy some of Austria-Hungary’s territory after the war. Italy promised to attack Austria-Hungary. The Italians led by General Luigi Cadorna, hammered away at Austrian-Hungary for two years in a series of battles along the Isonzo River in Austria-Hungary.
Italy had suffered enormous casualties but gained a very little territory. The Allies hoped that the Italian Front would help Russia by forcing Austria-Hungary to shift some troops away from the Eastern Front. Such as a shift occurred, but it didn’t help Russia.
The Ottoman Empire closed the waterway between the Aegean seas and the Black Sea. They blocked the sea route to Southern Russia. The French and British warships attacked the Dardanelles, a strait that forced part of the waterway, in February and March of 1915. The Allies hoped to open a supply route to Russia. Underwater mines halted the assault. In April 1915, the Allies landed troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the west shore of the Dardanelles. The troops from Australia and New Zealand played a key role in the landing. Ottoman and Allied forces soon became looked in Trench Warfare. Second invasion in August at Suvla Bay to the month failed to end the stand still. In December, 1915, the Allies began to evacuate their troops. Suffered about 250,000 casualties in the Dardanelles.
In May 1915, the armies of Germany and Austria-Hungary broke through Russian lines in Galicia, the Austria-Hungarian province that Russia had invaded in 1914. The Russians retreated about 300 miles (480 kilometers) before they formed a new line of defense. Czar Nicholas II, staged two offensives to relieve the pressure on the Allies on the Western Front. First Russian Offensive, in March 1916, failed to pull German troops away from Verdun. The second offensive began in June 1916 under General Alexei Brusilov. His army drove Austria-Hungary’s forces back about 50 miles (80 kilometers). Within a few weeks, Russia captured about 200,000 prisoners.
To halt the assault, Austria-Hungary had to shift troops from the Italian Front to the Eastern Front. The Russian Offensive knocked Austria-Hungary out of the war. Also exhausted Russia. Each side suffered about million casualties. Bulgaria entered the war in October 1915 to help Austria-Hungary defeat Serbia. Hoped to recover land it had lost in the Second Balkan War. In an effort to aid Serbia, the Allies landed troops in Salonika Greece. But the troops never reached Serbia. In November 1915, the Central Powers had overrun Serbia, and Serbia’s army had retreated to Albania. Romania joined the Allies in August 1916, hoped to gain some of Austria-Hungary’s territory if the Allies won the war. By the end of 1916, Romania had lost most of its army, and Germany controlled the country’s valuable wheat fields and oil fields.
At sea, Great Britain’s control of the seas during the Great War caused serious problems for Germany. The British navy blockaded German waters, preventing supplies from reaching German parts. In 1916, Germany suffered a shortage of food and other goods. They combated a British sea power with its submarine called U-Boats. In February 1915, Germany declared a submarine blockade of the British Isles and warned that it would attack any ship that tried to get through the blockade. U-Boats nearly destroyed great amounts of goods headed for Britain.
In May 1915, a U-Boat torpedoed without warning the British passenger liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. About 1,198 passengers who died were 128 Americans, which led President Woodrow Wilson to urge Germany to give up unrestricted submarine warfare. In September, Germany agreed not to attack neutral or passenger ships.
Major encounter between the two navies was the Battle of Jutland. Fought off the coast of embark on May 31-June1 1916. Admiral Sir John Jellicoe commanded a British fleet of 150 warships. They faced a German fleet of 99 warships under the command of Admiral Reinhard Scheer. Both sides claimed victory in the Battle of Jutland. Britain lost more ships than Germany, it still ruled the seas.
In the air, Aviation were made by the Allies and the Central Powers during the Great War. They were used mainly to observe enemy activities. Pilots carried guns to shoot down enemy planes.
In 1915, Germany developed a machine gun timed to fire between an airplane’s revolving propeller blades.
Invention made air combat more deadly and led to dog fights, clashes between enemy aircraft.
A pilot who shot down 5 or more enemy planes was called an ace. Many Aces became as national heroes. Aerial bombing remained in its early stages during World War I.