The German U-boats and battle cruisers

The First World War was a new type of war. It brought about horrific scenes of violence on an unprecedented scale, never before witnessed. It became the cause of millions of deaths, and many more casualties. It affected everyone, failing to discriminate on the grounds of race, class, colour or nationality. New types of weapons were invented, capable of inflicting horrific injuries. A wave of blood thirsty patriotism spread throughout Europe and for the first time civilians became a legitimate target. For a war that was supposed to be over by Christmas, it lasted a long time.

There are four main factors which affected the final outcome of the war: the war at sea, the war in the air, the home front and the western front. The following essay will compare and dissect the aforementioned factors, demonstrating how each aspect was beneficial to the allies winning the war. The War at Sea: The navy was paramount to the success of the allies during the war. Britain relied (as an island) heavily on its navy to supply the country with various supplies. The navy was used to guard merchant ships and other vessels entering Britain, from the German U-boats and battle cruisers.

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The Royal Navy guarded the path of the Merchant Navy and were often referred to as the soldiers of the sea. If the Germans had been successful in trying to block supplies from entering Britain, starvation would have been indefinite. The Royal Navy were the soldiers of the sea and they guarded the path of the Merchant Navy, who carried the supplies. If the Royal Navy had been beaten this in turn would have led to the destruction of the merchant navy. If the Merchant navy was unable to supply Britain with supplies then all of the other fronts would suffer as a consequence.

The soldiers in the Western Front would starve enabeling the Enemy Armies to advance. The Pilots and Soldiers would have no ammunition as metal was imported and so they would have nothing with which to attack the enemy. The Home Front would become demoralised through lack of food and would be left with the choice of surrendering or starving to death. When the war first began it was expected that all of the major battles at sea wouyld be between the dreadnought battleships. There was infac6 only one major naval battle; this was the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

The Battle was between ships 15 kilometers away from each other. The Germans had an advantage over the British as their gunners were more accurate and their shells more destructive, and the Brirtish ships had thinly armoured gun turrets. At this battle the British lost 14 ships, 3 of them powerfull cruisers, and 6000 men killed. The German losses were 11 ships but only one of these was a battle cruiser; 2550 German men died. The Germans claimed victory as they had fewer losses. The Germans were desperate to break the blockade of their ports by thre British fleets, and to set up their own blockades of the British Fleet.

The Germans could not do it, and the British blockade continued up until the ned of the war, which starved Germany, that could bewhy the Germans last offensive failed. The German soldiers were weak and the last of them were inexperienced. This is one reason why the allies won the war. Submarines became a key feature of the war at sea. Germans combated British sea power with its submarines called u-boats. In 1915 the Germans declared they would attack any boat that tied to get through their blockade of the British Isles. There after U-boats destroyed a great number of boats heading for Britain.

It was a new weapon called the torpeado that made submarine warfare so effective. Even the mightiest battleship was vulnerable to a torpedo from the smallest submarine. The mine also came into its own as a devastatingly affective weapon in the war at sea. Another tactic was for submarines to lay mines in harbours to atch enemy ships by surprise as the set out to sea. In May 1915 a U-boat torpedo, without warning the British passenger liner the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. Among the 11987 [passengers that died were 128 Americans. This caused tremendous outrage in Britain and the USA.

The British government new that there was illegal ammunition on the ship, but basically lied to the public. This was one of the factors that brought the USA into the war. The Germans made a desaterouse mistake by bombing many more American cargo and passenger ships. A German general also tried to plot against the USA by attempting to get Mexico to invade America. The Americans were made aware of this and so camer into the war and helped the western front. With them they brought equipment and thousands of strong healthy men. The Americans turned the war around for the allied forces.

The convoy system was introduced by the Royal Navy in April 1917 which meant that merchant ships were grouped and protected by anti submarine warships called ‘destroyers’. This was affective because the Germans chance of shooting a merchant ship was only one in twenty when all the other ships were surroungding it. The rest of the convoy could then make their escape. The war at sea had an impact as expected on the outcome of the war, but no more so than any of the other factors. The advantage was that without it the Americans might not have entered the war as soon as they did.

The war at sea boosted the morale of people at home, as battles at sea were exciting to read and hear about. During the war, victories were crucial but not decisive. The war at sea successfully brought Germany to its knees, as the country like most of Europe, was both starving and weak. After four years of suffering Germany like all of the others involved in the war also wanted an end to the suffering. The last German offensive was a failure due to a shortage of food, a flu epidemic and the weakness of its men. The war at sea was beneficial to the allies winning, but would not have been a success without the other fronts.

The War in the Air: The Allies and the central powers during World War Oe made great advances in aviation. Each side competed to have better aeroplanes than the other side. Aeroplanes were used mainly to observe enemy activities. Pilots carried guns to shoot enemy planes but a pilot risked shooting himself if a bullet bounced off a propleller. The aeroplanes were highly unreliable and dangerous, and the loss of pilots was high. At the beginning of the war they did the same job as observation balloons. Soon their mobility meant that commanders used them for detailed reconnaissance work over enemy trenches.

The photographs they took were very valuable. At the battle of the Marne they spotted a potential break in the allied lines which could have been fatal for the allies. Enemy aircraft would be sent to shopot down reconnaissance flights and in the early days of the war the dog fight emerged. In the beginning of the war pilots used pistols and rifles as it was not until planes were successfully fitted with machine guns. These guns were synchronized so that they did not shoot through their own propellor. By 1918 spectacular dog fights were common over the western front.

The rickety early planes had given way to sleek fighters like the ‘Sopwith camel’ and the ‘Fokker Triplane’. In 1915 Germany developed a machine gun timed to fire between an aeroplanes revolving propeller blades. The invention led to more deadly air combat and dog fights. A pilot who shot down five or more enemy planes was called an ‘Ace’. Many aces became national heroes. This aspect of fighting captured the publics imagination. It seemed to give people what they were looking for in 1914; honourable one against one combat between handsome young men. This boosted morale.

The newspapers picked up on stories about flying aces from early on in the war. The war in the air was ideal for propoganda. It gave the public something else to look to instead of the darker and more horrific side of the war. It was a retreat back to what was considered to be an honourable way of fighting. Each country had their own heroes: the most famous was probably Baron Von Richtofen and his squadron or ‘flying circus’. He shot down 80 Allied planes. The planes were a popular subject at the time and were later the subject of many Hollywood movies.

In the early stages of the war airships were the most important form of flight. They were called Zeppelins and were a key weapon in the war at sea. They flew higher and faster than any other planes at the time and it wasn’t long before Germany saw their use as bombers. They were not large enough to carry sufficient supplies of explosives to cause much damage. However they stirred up fear among the civilians in cities and made it necessary to introduce blackouts. For thew first time in a war civilians were a legitamate target. The British government pulled back fighters to defend Britain from the attacks.

Once airdefences improved it became clear that zeppelins were voulnerable. By 1918 speedy, powerfull fighter planes and accurate antiaircraft fire took a heavy toll on these giant aircraft. The german bombing of London during the first Wrorld War on the final outcome of the war. War in the air had an equal affect on the outcome of the war as all of the other factors. What it brought to the war was technological advancement. This futhered the war by allowing the allies to know what the Germans were doing and if anything, powered the war at sea through reconnaissance.