: BRITISH POLITICAL HISTORY
The War Years – What happened between 1914-18
The First World War represents one of the bloodiest periods in human history with casualties running into the millions and entire generations completely wiped out.
The early years of the war were resounding successes for the central powers occupying all of France and vast proportions of Europe with allied forces being steadily killed from German machine gun emplacements.
The use of trench warfare by both sides quickly resulted in a stalemate on the western front in which very little ground was gained by the Allies at the cost of untold thousands of lives.
The soldier in charge Field Marshal Haig ordered charges across no man’s land in an attempt to overwhelm German positions. These tactics were ineffective at best and served only to illustrate some of the bloodiest battles of the war as well as to allow the German military to fight a war of attrition against the Allied Forces resulting in the number of dead for the allied forces at the end of the war being more than a million greater than the dead of the Central Powers. As the war continued the Allied Forces altered battle plans to include new tactics allowing them to slowly force a German retreat and eventually bring an end to the fighting.
A Russian Revolution and withdrawal 1917
Russian involvement in the First World War ended in 1917 following the Bolshevik revolution in which the Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown and executed. In the wake of the change the new Soviet government withdrew Russian support for the war and called in all foreign debts leaving Europe’s economies in even direr circumstances. This was the end of Russian involvement in the Great War as after 1917 they took no further part.
Entry of the United States on behalf of the Allied Powers
The entry of the US into the First World War in April 1917 represents a massive turning point in the progress of the war from the Allied point of view from the position of the Central Powers the entry of American Forces signalled the beginning of the end.
The main reasons for America’s entry are recognised by many historians as being the sinking of the Lusitania and the decision by Central Powers Command to engage in unrestricted submarine warfare.
The entry of fresh American troops and much needed supplies swung the balance of the war in the Allies favour as although America did not field an army until 1918 a potentially limitless supply of fresh troops from across the Atlantic forced the Central Powers into rash action to try to win the war before the US could fully deploy. This resulted in the German forces breaking themselves upon British and French lines and losing a vast number of men beyond their ability to replace. During the last 100 days of the war momentum swung in favour of the allies with large gains being made and the German forces being pushed back on all fronts.
It was the entry of American forces that so demoralised the central powers that the Allies were able to renew their efforts and take advantage of German weakness. At the end of the war it was primarily the efforts of Woodrow Wilson the American President that led to the Paris peace talks and the ending of hostilities.