Friday, November 23, 2007

The First World War, Part Two.

The early months of 1918 had been promising for the German army. A revolution-torn Russia had been beaten decisively, and in March 1918 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended the war on the eastern front in the German's favor. With the eastern front taken care of, Germany could now devote a mass number of soldiers and weapons to the western front; and so the Germans prepared a mighty series of attacks aimed at crushing the British and French Allied forces in France before the Americans arrived. They began the offensive on March 21st, 1918, when three German armies-numbering well over 800,000 men-attacked the British defenses of trenches along a 40 mile front and within two days British Field Marshall Douglas Haig's outnumbered troops were in a full retreat. As the British pulled back towards the English Channel, ready to evacuate France by sea, they opened a gap between themselves and the French forces. Before the German army could take the advantage and rush in to fill the gap, however, the French sent re-enforcements, and the Allied lines held. All throughout the spring of 1918, the Germans continued to hammer the allied lines. Again and again they would gain great amounts of ground, but only to be stopped short of a truly decisive victory. By summer, a great number of Americans were ready to fight, and it was clear that the great German offensive had failed. In mid-July, the German commander, Erich von Ludendorff, made a final effort by launching a attack in the Marne Valley aimed at Paris. This struggle was the turning point of the war; the exhausted Germans were halted once and for all, and an Allied counter-offensive began. There were now 1,000,000 Americans in France, and and another 500,000 would arrive by November. Using the newly arrived American troops to spearhead the drive in the Marne Salient, the Allies began pushing the German armies back, turning the western front into one enormous Allied attack. Although they met stiff resistance, the Allies were victorious. By fall, with a revolution threatening the Germans at home, the Germans willingly agreed to an armistice. Thus, on November 11th, the First World War came to an end.

Although most fighting in the western front took place in the trenches, filled with mud and bristling with barbed wire, there was also a reasonable amount of fighting in the nearby towns, woods, farms, and forests; of which we will be focusing on in this entry.

A American soldier runs for cover during the fighting near one of many small towns and settlements throughout the French countryside.

An American soldier moves through the dense woods in the first stages of the Meuse-Argonne offense. Note that he has his bayonet-a knife like weapon that could be attached to the end of a gun barrel-is fixed onto his rifle for hand-to-hand fighting. An ambush or attack by the enemy in the woods often ended up in hand-to-hand and close quarters combat, and the Allied Soldier had to be ready for anything.

A two-man crew prepares to fire this water-cooled Browning machine gun. Machine guns, first used by the U.S. Army during the American Civil War, were used by both sides in World War One.

Poison mustard gas, a German secret weapon, was used on the western front with deadly effect. Both sides had to wear protective masks equipped with a special air filter in order to survive. If you were exposed to the gas without a mask, it would result in blindness, burns, lung damage, but most of the time death. Here we see a American soldier wearing his gas mask while fighting in the Argonne forest in the fall of 1918.

Fighting in the swirling yellow-brown clouds of gas, a soldier takes aim at the enemy. Visibility was cut down when gas was used, and it was sometimes hard to tell friend from foe; and soldiers had to be careful at who they aimed at.


  1. Great job, boys!!!!

  2. Hey, Garrett, Ben and Elijah!!
    Looks like you fellows had an awesome time with those toy figures! This is a pretty incredibel blog!! Wonderful and masterful work!! The History is also very good!!! Keep up the good work!! Continue to serve the Lord in everything you do!! God bless and keep you all!!
    In Him, John Kennedy

  3. Hi...I just saw this post linked from a friend of ours in our church. her name is Abbey. This site is one of the coolest, most unique ones i've been to. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    josh in ny

  4. hi those guys with gas masks were kind of scary but they were cool
    good job guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    you freind nick mckenzie