2 The Great War GERMAN METHOD OF HONOURING GOOD FRIDAY. Interior of the Paris church of St. Gervais hit by a shell during the long-range bombardment of the capital on Good Friday 1918. One hundred and fifty worshippers were victims of this attack. All the factors in those sad hours seemed to work in the German cause. The weather itself appeared to obey the bidding of “the old "Prussian God and to serve William II. the Treaty-Breaker. Each recurrent allied offensive was wrecked by unfavourable conditions. The British Government failed to realise the consequences of the Russian collapse and to take timely steps to meet the danger from the increased strength of Germany. The gradual exhaustion of the nations man-power had leftmost of the British units seriously below their establishment. It became necessary failing a Problems of change in the recruiting law to breakup man-power one of the four infantry battalions in each British brigade and use it for drafts. The strength of the British brigade was thus reduced by one- fourth and the burdens which each battalion had to endure were correspondingly augmented. At the same time the Government was faced by serious difficulties. It had not the courage to enforce compulsion equally and evenly. It had unjustly exempted Ireland from the operation of the recruiting law and had tolerated an insurrec tionary movement there which tied up a British army at a critical moment. It had left a number of privileged young men in munition works and in other industries whose absence from the front was a daily catise of reproach to themselves. If these men were not touched and if the age limit were raised the number of recruits would not be large and the blow to finance industry and the output of ships and war material would abe grave one. The British Government therefore drifted and trusted to luck while the Germans with all possible energy, prepared men and trained them to strike. They practised new methods in Russia on the prostrate corpse of the Russian Army organised the other fronts for attack and built Tanks inconsiderable numbers. Napoleon said that tactics should be changed every ten years and the Germans remodelled their system of fighting much oftener under the stimulus of war. When their effort to “waltz through France ”and again swift and decisive victory on the Marne broke down they introduced trench war on a colossal scale and perfected the instruments for it with wonderful ingenuity upholding the Allies for years. Tanks and aircraft might have enabled the Allies to breakthrough but unfortunately both these new forms of weapons were at the outset distrusted by military conservatism in the allied councils. Each side had increased the number of machine-guns and automatic guns to such an extent that a comparatively small force of infantry and machine-gunners could holdup any attack if they were not taken by surprise or outflanked. The artillery strength of each side was S O 'nearly equal and the ground inmost sectors was so torn by projectiles that all movements became most difficult* except at points where the soil was. firm or there had been little fighting. It was as though the armies had been sundered by allan but impassable morass. The best soldiers on both sides deplored the system of trench warfare with its habituation of men to the defensive. “Troops who get used to holding immensely strong positions like these with what is, as war goes a minimum of danger must lose the ”aggressive spirit wrote one able British officer from France. “What one would like is two or three months of really savage fighting followed by Drawbacks of by peace. This sort of war is ruinous trench warfare to troops. They necessarily lose marching power and the charging spirit. This trench life in any case is not good for moral. How does anyone suppose the troops will face the open after it ?”The Germans found that their dug-outs were too comfortable and secure. They were so safe that the men were reluctant to emerge from them when attacks came despite the iron discipline which prevailed in the German Army. Nor were the losses intrench war really small. Day after day and week after week men became casualties or were invalided the wastage was continuous and it brought no result. The German Staff therefore cast about for the best method of
We have sought to ensure that the content of this website complies with UK copyright law.
Please note however, that we may have been unable to ascertain the rights holders of some items.
Where we have digitised items, we have done so with items that to the best of our knowledge,
following due investigations, are in the public domain. While the original works are in the public domain
we reserve all rights to the usage of the digital works.