Research Paper on Trench Warfare

Trench warfare is a form of warfare where combatants shelter in fortified lines, consisting largely of trenches in which soldiers are relatively protected from light weapons and the artillery. It has become a familiar term for the war of position, paralysis of the conflict, and the gradual depletion of opposing forces.

Trench warfare was caused by a revolution in firepower that was not followed by similar advances in mobility of troops. This results in a grueling form of warfare in which the defense is always stronger than the attack. During the First World War, the two sides worked out systems of trenches facing each other along the front, protected by barbed wire. The area bounded by opposing trenches (known as no man’s land) was subject to artillery fire from both sides. Losses during assaults were extremely heavy and were an integral part of trench warfare.

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To write a good research paper on trench warfare, you must know that before the advent of firearms, the moat around a castle and the ditch could be considered the ancestors of the trenches. In the XVIIth century, Vauban revolutionizes taking strongholds by building networks of trenches around the citadel. In this case the trench does not have a defensive role but offensive.

An elaborate network of trenches and bunkers had already been used successfully by Maori in the 1840s to protect them against British firearms during the Maori Wars. British casualties in the Battle of Ohaeawai in 1845 went up to 45%, demonstrating that superior firepower was not enough to overcome the defenders of a system of trenches.

Trench warfare was later used on a larger scale during the Crimean War (especially the siege of Sevastopol), the American Civil War, the Russo-Japanese War and the Second Boer War. It is strongly associated with the First World War, when it was used on all European fronts and in particular on the Western Front. From October 1914 until the last weeks of the war, the front solidified into a series of trench lines when it became clear that any offensive infantry would be destroyed by enemy artillery and machine guns.

Trench warfare became a powerful symbol of the futility of war. His images of young men climbing over the parapet of the trench to confront a maelstrom of fire leading to certain death marked the spirits. The battles of the Somme and Verdun are perfect examples of this war of attrition. Trench warfare is associated with needless slaughter in appalling conditions brave soldiers sent to their deaths by incompetent officers; they have not realized the novelty of the war and continued to believe that the superior will of the attacker could overwhelm the arms and lower morale of the defender. British and the Commonwealth Nations troops are sometimes referred to as “lions led by donkeys.”

The fundamental strategy of trench warfare during the First World War was to protect your position and try to achieve a breakthrough in the enemy lines.

This led to a war of attrition and the ambition to destroy the enemy exhausting its human and economic resources that could not be realized. This did not prevent the staffs continue this strategy of annihilation. The British commander Douglas Haig continually sought a breakthrough that could be exploited by the cavalry. However, the battles of the Somme and Flanders designed for this purpose turned into battle of attrition. The same applies to the German army who wanted to “bleed the French army” in launching the Battle of Verdun but the striker bled equally as the defender.

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