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(German) General von Schlieffen

Devised the Schlieffen Plan to win WWI

Schlieffen Plan

1905 German military strategy. First invade France through Belgium and the Netherlands and defeat them in 6 weeks before Russia can mobilise and then defeat Russia.

Schlieffen Plan ratio before change

7:1 - Right flank 7 times the strength of the left

Schlieffen Plan ratio after the change

3:1 - Hammer swing weakened

Russian Mobilisation

10 days rather than the German's expected 6 weeks

(German) Colonel-General von Molke

Changed Schlieffen Plan in 1906. Weakened hammer swing, changed troop movement - not through Holland, didn't encircle Paris - went West of Paris instead

Results of changes to Schlieffen Plan

Hammer swing weakened
Didn't encircle Paris
Gave time for French mobilisation
Slower German mobilisation

French response to Schlieffen Plan

Didn't believe it
Germans didn't have enough men in professional army


Belgian resistance to German invasion
Belgians aided by British
First conflict between Britain and Germany
Slowed German advance

Battle of Marne

6-12 September 1914
French Commander General Joffre and German General von Kluck
Kluck's 1st army vulnerable
Attack by Joffre created gap between 1st and 2nd army
British troops could encircle them
French troops mobilised from Paris
German retreat to River Aisne
Start of trench warfare -> STALEMATE

Start of trench warfare

Battle of Marne

Wilson quote on trench warfare

"for the Germans, this was an entirely new phenomenon"

French war plan

1913 - Plan 17
Defend Franco-German border

Race to the Sea

September-November 1914 - Armies trying to outflank each other to reach the sea first. Both wanted Channel ports

Results of Race to the Sea

Troops dug into position
Established the Western Front

Western Front

720 km of trench lines stretching from English Channel to Swiss Frontier

First Battle of Ypres

October-November 1914
Made Western Front and Stalemate official

Fussell quote on Christmas Truce

"The Christmas truce was the last twitch of the 20th century."

(German) General von Falkenhayn

Believed the war would be won on the Western Front

(German) General von Hindenburg

Ended war of attrition at Verdun
Elected President of Germany in 1926

(German) General von Ludendorff

Helped with the militarisation of the German economy

(French) General Joffre

Commander-in-chief 1914-1916

(French) General Nivelle

Commander in Chief 1916-1917

(French) General Pétain

Commander in Chief 1917

(French) General Foch

Généralissime ("Supreme General")

(British) Field Marshal Sir John French

Commander in Chief of BEF 1914-1915

(British) General Haig

Commander in Chief 1915-1918
Used controversial methods

Cult of the Offensive


Trench Warfare

Defensive strategy associated with WW1 immobility

Trench System

Network of trenches consisting of multiple lines and traversing connections between the lines.

Reserve trenches

A part of the trench system where reinforcements would wait to be called up to the front line.

Communications trenches

Trenches that provided protected passage between the rear and front lines of a defensive position. Used to move soldiers and supplies from trench to trench without exposing them to enemies' fire.

Front-line trenches

The first line of attack and defence in the trench system.

Support trenches

The second line of trenches where front line soldiers retreat during a bombardment.

No man's land

The area of land between the two enemies' front lines


An underground shelter dug into the side of trenches to protect from enemy fire and the elements.


A military position which bulges forward into enemy territory and is vulnerable to enemy attacks. Ypres.

Duck Board

A board or board walk laid across wet or muddy ground or flooring.

Barbed Wire

Twisted strands of fence wire with barbs at regular intervals. Put in front of trenches to deter the enemy from going 'over the top'.

Over the Top

To leave the trenches and attack the enemy.

Firing Step

A step built into each trench two or three feet from the trench floor to enable a soldier to look through the parapet into No Man's Land in the direction of the enemy trench line.


A protective wall or earth defence along the top of a trench or other place of concealment for troops.

Pill Box

Concrete structures occupied by a few men and positioned to control a section of the front.


An individual soldier using a rifle.

Ammunition Shelf

Shelf used to store ammunition.

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