Albany Senior High School Battles of World War 1 by Samuel Barnaby

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Battles of World War 1


The battles of World War 1 were fought around the world in places like Flanders, France, Russia and the Middle East. They destroyed the landscape and led to the deaths of millions of soldiers, places like Gallipoli, the Somme and Verdun became known. Most of the battles were fought in the style of Trench Warfare, they were largely divided into the Western, Eastern, Middle Eastern and Colonial Fronts, most battles took place in the Western and Eastern Fronts.

Battles in 1914

Battle of Mons

The Battle of Mons began on the 23rd of August 1914, on one side was the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who was under the command of Field Marshal Sir John French, they had four divisions which was approximately 70,000 men and on the other side was the German Army under the command of General Alexander Von Kluck, they had eight divisions which was 150,000 men. Not long before 9:00 am the German guns were in position and opened fire on the positions of the BEF.This attack was followed by an eight battalion attack from the infantry, the British destroyed the German ranks but by the afternoon French had to order his men to fall back, this was because of the heavy pressure on his front and the fact that the German 17th division on his right flank. The British were eventually defeated, they lost 1,600 men ether killed or wounded, Germany lost 5,000 killed and wounded.

Battle of Tannenberg

The Battle of Tannenberg also began on the 23rd of August 1914, the Germans were on one side, they were commanded by General Paul Von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludenorff, they had a total of 166,000 men, the Russians were commanded by General Alexander Samsonov and General Paul Von Rennenkampf , they had a total of 416,000 men, the background to this battle was when Germany began to implement the Schlieffen Plan, the plan was that the bulk of the German forces would meet in the west with a small force left in the east, the main goal of this plan was to quickly defeat France before the Russians could mobilize their forces, with this happening the Germans would be free to focus there attention on the east, the Germans thought it would take seven weeks for the Russians to get their troops to the front, this was mostly true but two fifths of Russias peace time army was located around the city of Warsaw in Russian Poland making it immediately avalable for action. It was the XVII corps wich started the main battle on the 26th, they attacked the Russian right, they drove back part of the Russian VI corps back near Seeburg and Bischofstein. Meanwhile in the south the German XX corps were able to hold around Tannenburg, in the meantime the Russian XIII corps drove unopposed to Allenstein. Despite the Russians having considerably more troops and some success they lost the battle, their casualties were 92,000 troops captured and 30,000 to 50,000 killed or wounded, the German total casualties were 12,000 to 20,000 troops.

Battle of Heligoland Bight

The battle of Heligoand Bight started on the 28th of August, the two opossing sides were the British Royal Navy who was commanded by Vice Admeral David Beatty, Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt and Commodore Roger Keyes, they had 5 battlecruisers, 8 light cruisers, 33 destroyers and 8 submarines, and the Imperial German Navy who was commanded by Rear Admiral Leberecht Maass, they had 6 light cruisers, 19 torpedo boats and 12 minesweepers. This was the first naval battle of World War One and happend because of a British raid on the German coast.Early that morning it was Commodore Tyrwhitt and his flagship HMS Arethusa that encountered the first German Torpedo boats to the west of Heligoland, the Germans anticipated an attack from the British so they sent the two light cruisers SMS Frauenlob and SMS Stettin, then after that they deployed four aditional light cruisers who were under the command of Rear Admiral Leberecht Maass, Tyrwhitt's flagship was got heavily dammaged and so called for help, coming to their rescue Goodenough's squadron forced Frauenlob to retire from the battle and sank the light cruiser SMS Mainz. later in the battle after sinking Maass' flagship and the light cruiser SMS Ariadne the British withdrew victorious. The Royal Navy sunk three German light cruisers and damaged three others, the German casualties were 712 killed,149 wounded and 336 captured while the British casualties were 35 killed and 55 wounded.

First Battle of the Marne

The First Battle of Marne was from the 6th of September to the 12th, the Germans who were commaned by Chief of Staff Helmuth Von Moltke had approximately 1,485,000 troops while the French and British who were commanded by General Joseph Joffre and Field Marshal Sir John French has approximately 1,071,000 troops, like the Battle of Tannenburg the background to this battle was when Germany implemented the Schlieffen plan. During the battle the new technology of aviation was utilizised, allied reconnaissance planes spotted a gap in the German forces and reported it to Joffre, moving quickly to exploit this oportunity Joffre ordered the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) and General Franchet d'Esperey's French fifth Army into the gap, while these forces moved to isolate the German first army, General Alexander Von Kluck continued his attacks against Maunoury. On the 8th of September d'Esperey launched a large scale attack against General Karl Von Bulow's second army driving it back. The next day the German first and second armies were threatend with encirclement and destruction, so the first orders for a retreat were given later that day. The British and French lost about 263,000 troops and the Germans had similar casualties.

First Battle of Ypres

The First Battle of Ypres was from the 19th of October to the 22nd of November, the Allied forces were commanded by Field Marshal Sir John French, General Joseph Joffre and King Albert I of Belgium and the German forces were commanded by Chief of the General Staff Erich Von Falkenhayn, Field Marshal Albrecht Duke of Wurttemberg and General Rupprecht Crown Prince of Bavaria. German forces in Flanders began attacking from the coast to the south of Ypres, meanwhile the Belgians were fighting a desperate battle along the Yser river, and the BEF came under heavy attack below and around Ypres, the Germans attacked the area between Ypres and Langemarck, striking the British II corps on the 20th of October. Because of the arrival of General Douglas Haig's I corps the British Situation near the town improved. The First Battle of Ypres was a critical victory for the allies, the BEF casualties were 7,960 killed, 29,562 wounded and 17,873 missing, the French casualties were between 50,000 and 85,000 of all types, the Belgian casualties were 21,562 troops, on the German side their casualties were 19,530 killed, 83,520 wounded and 31,265 missing.

Battle of Coronel

The Battle of Coronel took place on the 1st of November, it was between the British Royal Navy commanded by Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock with the armored cruisers HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth, the light cruiser HMS Glasgow and the converted liner HMS Otranto and the Imperial German Navy commanded by Admiral Graf Maximilian Von Spee with the Armored cruisers SMS Scharnhorst and SMS Gneisenau and the light cruisers  SMS Nurnberg, SMS Leipzig and SMS Dredsen.When the British were alerted to the presence of Von Spee they began to make plans to intercept and destroy his squadron, the closest British force in the area was Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock's West Indies squadron, but the Amiralty realised that Cradock's squadron was badly out gunned so they despatched the battleship HMS Canopus and the armoured cruiser HMS Defence, by late October they still had not turned up so Cradock decided he could not wait any longer. On the 31st of October he learnt via a radio intercept that the German light cruiser SMS Leipzig was in the area but what he didn't learn from that was that Von Spee's whole squadron was there as well. The battle began when Von Spee opend fire, SMS Scharnhorst crippled HMS Good Hope which later sunk, HMS Monmouth was hit badly and later finished off by SMS Nurnberg and HMS Glasgow and HMS Otranto escaped. The casualties for the British were 1,654 killed and both there amoured cruisers lost while the German casualties were just 3 wounded.

Battle of the Falklands

The Battle of the Falklands began on the 8th of December and was in direct responce to the British defeat at the Battle of Coronel, it was between the British Royal Navy under the command of Vice Admiral Doveton Sturdee with 2 battlecruisers, 3 armoured cruisers and 2 light cruisers and the Imperial German Navy commanded again by Admiral Graf Maximilian Von Spee with 2 armoured cruisers and 3 light cruisers. The battle began when HMS Canopus fired on the suprised SMS Nurnberg and SMS Gneisenau, Von Spee realising that it was his force this time that was out gunned decided to head for open water. Seeing this Sturdee dispatched the armoured cruiser HMS Kent to track the Germans while the rest of his ships followed in persuit. Despite having a 15 mile head start sturdee was able to run down the German ships, the British then fired on the light cruiser Leipzig which was at the end of the German line. Von Spree realized that he could not escape so decided to engage the british with the two armoured cruisers SMS Scharnhorst and SMS Gneisenau, he hoped by doing this that his light cruisers could escape, Von Spee did manage to hit the battlecruiser HMS Invincible several times but it didnt sink because of its heavy armor. Von Spee tried to escape again. Scharnhorst got put out of action and later sunk while Von Spee was on board, Gneisenau was sunk, HMS Kent managed to destroy SMS Nurnberg and SMS Leipzig was finished off by HMS Glasgow and HMS Cornwall.

Battles in 1915

Battle of Dogger Bank

The Battle of Dogger Bank began on the 24th of January, the British were commanded by Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty and had a force of 5 battlecruisers, 7 light cruisers and 35 destroyers. The Germans were commanded by Rear Admiral Franz Hipper and had a smaller force of 3 battlecruisers, 1 armoured cruiser, 4 light cruisers and 18 destroyers. Beatty encountered Hipper's screening forces on the 24th and half an hour later Hipper saw the smoke of the approaching British ships, seeing that it was a large force he attempted to escape back to Wilhelmshaven. Beatty saw the German battle cruisers at 8:00 am and moved into a position to attack, they approached from the starboard side and from behind the German ships. HMS Lion opened fire then followed by the other battlecruisers. Beatty's plan was for his 3 lead ships to engage there German counterparts while HMS Indomitable and HMS New Zealand targeted SMS Blücher, this didn't happen because the captain of HMS Tiger H.B. Pelly decided to focus his ships fire on SMS Seydlitz, this left SMS Moltke uncoverd and allowed it to fire back. By the end of the battle HMS Lion and Meteor were crippled as well as 15 sailors killed and 32 wounded, the Germans had werse loses 954 sailors killed, 80 wounded and 189 captured plus Blücher was sunk and Seydlitz badly damaged.

Second Battle of Ypres

The second Battle of Ypres began on the 22nd of April, the Allies were commanded by General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, General Herbert Plumer, General Henri Putz, Major General Armand de Ceuninck and Major General Theophile Figeys, they had 8 divisions. The Germans were commanded by Albrecht Duke of Württemberg, they had 7 divisions. The Germans wanted to try out a new weapon wich was a lethal gas called Chlorine gas, it was in preparation for the assault that they moved 2,599 kg canisters containing Chlorine gas to the front  which was opposite to Gravenstafel Ridge. It was around 5:00 pm on the 22nd of April that soldiers from the German 4th army  began to release the Chlorine gas towards the French soldiers that were oposite at Gravenstafel, the gas hit the French 45th and 87th divisions, they then began to retreat as their fellow soldiers were blinded or collapsed from asphyxiation. 6,000 French soldiers died as a result from gas related causes, Canadian soldiers of the 1st Canadian Division tried to protect themselves from gas attacks by covering their mouthes and noses with urine or water soaked handkerchiefs, this failed so they had to pull back. eventually the Germans brought the battle to a close because they had a lack of suplies and man power. The British casualties sufferd at the second battle of Ypres was 59,275, the French around 10,000 and the Germans 34,933.

Sinking of the Lusitania

The ship called RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by the German U-boat (submarine) on the 7th of May, submarine warnings were issued for the south coast of Ireland because of Captain Lieutenant Walther Schwieger's U-boats activity around that area, Captain William Thomas Turner who was in command of the Lusitania at the time recieved two of these warnings on the 6th of May, because of these warnings he took several precautions such as closing watertight doors, doubling the lookouts, swinging out the lifeboats and blacking out the ship. At around 11:00 am on the 7th of May Turner recieved a third warning, he incorrectly believed that submarines would keep to open sea so he decided to turn north. Schwieger's U-boat spotted the Lusitania at 1:00 pm and opended fire an hour and ten minutes later at 2:10 pm, the torpedo hit the bridge  on the starboard side of the Lusitania, this was followed quickly by an exsplosion on the starboard bow. The ship sunk eighteen minutes later at 2:28. 1,198 of the Lusitania's crew and passengers lost their lives when the boat sunk.Because 128 American citizens died when the boat sunk this was one of the things that eventually led the United States of America into the First World War on the side of the Allies.

Battle of Loos

The battle of Loos began on the 25th of September and was between the British led by General Sir Douglas Haig, who had six divisions and the Germans who were commanded by Crown Prince Rupprecht, they had the German sixth army. The British released the chlorine gas at around 5:50 am and the British infantry began advancing forty minutes after this at 6:30 am, they discovered that the chlorine gas had not been effective and that there were still large clouds of the gas lingering between the lines, because of the poor quality of the British gas masks they suffered 2,632 gas casualties but only 7 deaths resulted from that, despite this they did achieve some success. In the south they captured the village of Loos quickly and then pressed on towards Lens. By the end of the battle the British did make some small gains but ultimately failed to break through the German lines and as a result they had 50,000 casualties, while on the other had the German casualties were 25,000 half the number of what the British forces suffered during the battle.

Battles in 1916

Battle of Verdun

The Battle of Verdun started on the 21st of February and it was between the French who were commanded by General Philippe Petain and General Robert Nivelle, they had a force of 30,000 troops. The Germans who were commanded by Chief of staff Erich von Falkenhayn and Crown Prince Wilhelm, they had a force of 150,000 troops. At 7:15 am the Germans commenced a ten hour long bombardment with their artillery on the French lines around the city of Verdun, the French were forced to fall back almost 5km on the first day because of the weight of the German attack. Four days later the Germans successfully captured  fort Douaumont wich was northeast of the city. With the Battle of the Somme starting up some of the German troops were moved from verdun to help in the battle, this allowed General Robert Nivelle to plan what would be an ultimately successful counter attack wich resulted in a pyrrhic victory. The French casualties were 161,000 dead, 101,000 missing and 216,000 wounded, the German casualties of the battle were 142,000 killed and 187,000 wounded. This battle ended on the 18th of December and became one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the First World War.

Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme began on the 1st of July and ended on the 18th of November. It was between the Allies (Britain and France) who were under the command of the British Field Marshal Douglas Haig and the French General Ferdinand Foch, there forces consited of 13 British and 11 French divisions eventually rising to 51 British and 48 French Divisions. The German forces were under the command of General Max Von Gallwitz and General Fritz Von Below, their force consisted of 10 divisions later rising to 50. The attack began at 7:30 am with the 13 divisions of the British attempting to advance up an old Roman road. They faced heavy German resistance because the artillery bombardment before the British troops began advancing had largely been ineffective. In all areas the British achieved little success or were driven back by the German forces, eventually the Germans began moving some of their forces to reinforce General Fritz Von Below's second Army north of the Somme. This enabled a French victory at the Battle of Verdun. The Battle of the Somme ended with neither side really winning, the British casualties numberd around 420,000 troops, the French incurred 200,000 casualties while the Germans suffered the most with their casualties being around 500,000.

Battle of Romani

The Battle of Romani began on the 3rd of August and was between the British Commonwealth whose force of around 10,000 men was commanded by General Sir Archibald Murray and the Ottoman Empire whose force of around 18,000 men was commanded by the German Friedrich Freiherr Kress Von Kressenstein. One of Von Kressenstein's goals in 1916 was to attack the Suez Canal in Egypt, to do this he began pushing Turkish troops across the Sinai Peninsula. Unlucky for him the British forces under General Sir Archibald Murray were aware of his intentions, so they began to prepare defensive positions in the area. Because water in the Southern Sinai desert was scarce, General Murray's line only blocked the northern root across the peninsula, it ran from the Mediterranean coast south to Romani.During the evening of the 3rd Kressenstein went forward with 8,000 soldiers and started following the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade as it returned from a patrol. Eventually the British Commonwealth forces were alerted to an impending Turkish attack and so the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade was advanced, they fought a delaying action. The British Commonwealth won the battle but 202 of their men were killed and a further 928 were wounded, the Turkish loses were greater 1,350 of their soldiers were killed, 4,000 were wounded and 3,950 were captured.

Battle of Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba started on the 23rd of December and again was between British Commonwealth who were under the command of General Sir Henry Chauvel, his forces were made up of three mounted brigades and one camel brigade and the Ottomans who were under the command of Khadir Bey his forces consisted of only 1,400 men. General Chauvel was orderd to take the ANZAC Mounted Division and the Camel Corps to clear out Magdhaba wich the Turkish forces had retreated to from El Arish, his forces needed a quick victory because the closest source of water would be 23 miles (37 kilometres) away. Defending Magdhaba was the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 80th Regiment of the Ottoman Army,they were supported by four old mountain guns and a small Camel squadron. The attack began with eleven Australian aircraft at around 6:30 am, despite this being ineffective it did alert the attacking forces of the locations of the Turkish trenches and strong points. General Chauvel got reports that the Turkish garrison was retreating but these turned out to be wrong because when the 1st Light Horse Brigade approached they came under artillery and machine gun fire