Essay: Weaponary used in World Wars

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  • Weaponary used in World Wars
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Although many considered World War I a tragedy, it would become an opportunity to learn about modern warfare with many concepts of strategical military tactics from that war being used again in various ways in World War II. However, many have confused the difference between tactics and strategies. A tactic, by definition, is the actual means of achieving an objective (Warfare). On the other hand, a strategy is the battle plans of a particular campaign (Warfare). There was only one real main tactic of warfare, of which came out of WWI. However,  the sub tactics of this would, later on, be developed further into the improved machines of WWII. This tactic was land fighting, in the form of trench warfare. This form of war was aided by the support of artillery, and machine guns (Warfare). The battles were mostly infantry assaults, with the aid of aircraft and chemical weapons (Warfare). Until later did the involvement of tanks come into play. Because of the trench warfare, there was not a lot of movement between the two sides, there was very little change, so the war was bogged down (Warfare). As a result, the stalemate in Europe from trench warfare gave neither side the ability to win the war, or leave their position (Warfare).

“The Allied Invasion of Gallipoli and its subsequent failure represented perhaps the greatest lost opportunity of the First World War (WWI)” (Shrier).

The loss of the 1915 invasion, actually significantly benefitted the allied powers in World War II (WWII) (Shrier). If the Allied Powers in WWI had been successful in Gallipoli, first it would rapidly change the whole course of the war, but maybe even the history to follow to the present day. Even more significantly, this would have changed the outcome of WWII, if this war would have occurred. It is a real “what if” question. What would have been different from then to the present day, if Gallipoli would have been a victory? The Invasion of Sicily, Invasion of Italy, and also even the Invasion of Normandy, might not have worked out so well. The planners behind these WWII battles, all in a degree had to have looked back on to this failure of WWI, as an example of how to fix a normal human eye read over. But, also one has to consider the sheer size and expansion of updated new machinery of WWI technology with a massive innovation and development stage into evolving the weapons into an even deadlier way of WWII technology. One could say that the Invasion of Gallipoli, serves as a learning epicenter for the WWII leaders, who led their men into combat.

The battle of Gallipoli was an amphibious assault, supported by an off sea naval bombardment. This type of assault has been done in the ancient times of Greece. The main objective of the invasion was to knock out the Ottoman superpower and to have a supply route to Russia (Shrier). This, in turn, would resupply the Russians, and not only eliminate the Middle Eastern conflict but, have Germany face a two-front war (Shrier). If the invasion would have been a success, the Germans would have had to have divided supplies, troops, and other resources, which would ultimately relieve the German aggressive pressure off the French (Shrier). But the most crucial things that the Germans would lose is its supply of oil coming from the Middle East (Shrier). Before the war even began, Germany made a pact with the Ottomans, in which Germany built a railroad from Berlin to Baghdad, which supplied Germany with oil coming from the Middle Eastern Oil Reserves (Shrier).

The allied campaign was a bold decision and essentially a “game changer” (Shrier). The invasions failure was due to poor unrealistic planning, and operational mismanagement (Shrier). The outcome of the allied operation of Italy in WWII could have been the same outcome for Gallipoli (Shrier). Only if the WWI Allied Leaders, had honored and appreciated the real outcomes and of a realistic thoroughly planned out operation (Shrier). This would have backup plans to support any failed objectives, and or counter attacks, as any modern day operation is. More interesting is that both invasions had nearly the same morals in their goals of the mission, was to divert and spread the enemy forces thin (Shrier). The allies would fake a maneuver to make it look like there is a large force in one area, which would make it look like that is where the next attack would be (Shrier). This would impact the change in the enemy strategy probably forcing their best units to go to that area to defend. However, in reality, the real crucial knockout blow was delivered elsewhere (Shrier). “The vastly different outcomes in similar wars almost demand a comparison of the factors that led one operation to success and the other to failure” (Shrier). Both Italy and Gallipoli were secondary objectives in their respective wars, meaning, even though if it were a successful outcome, it was not a victory that would end the war in that instance (Shrier).

The Invasion of Gallipoli occurred due to a combination of events during the war. First, was the Western Front, the stalemate on the Western Front was locked in and looked like it would not be going anywhere (Shrier). Second, was the Russian defeat at Tannenberg in the fall of 1914, due to the heavy losses the Eastern Front was on the brink of collapse (Shrier). Third, was that the Ottoman Empire joined the war in December of 1914 (Shrier). If the Allies could successfully capture the Dardanelles they could reopen the second front, but also assist Russia on their side of the war (Shrier). The grand mastermind behind the invasion was none other than Winston Churchill (Shrier). Winston Churchill held the position of First Lord of the Admiralty (Shrier). Unlike the normal way of thinking of just building up more artillery and more men, he devised a plan that would help turn the tide of the war, by taking one of the three superpowers of the Central Powers out of the war (World Wars). The initial plan was to start off with an off sea naval bombardment by the Royal Navy (Shrier). Only until later was the idea of invading the Dardanelles added (Shrier). It was clear that it would be purely outrageous to invade the Dardanelles without any form of naval assistance (Shrier). This battle is one of the most well-known examples of the recent military history of the well-known phrase “ ‘mission creep’ or the inevitable addition of tasks to what was originally a simple and straightforward assignment” (Shrier). It was only a bombardment at first because of according to Lord Kitchener, The British War Minister, there were no troops available for a land assault (Shrier).

The order of battle started off when the British Mediterranean fleet was ordered to force through the narrows and come out into the Black Sea, where they would not only support the Russian offensive but, also be able to harass Turkish shipping (Shrier). But it was only after the Royal Navy’s loss in February of 1915, with two of their capital ships sunk, that the plan to storm the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula was tossed around (Shrier). Two months after the landing plan was approved, did the allied come up with a plan and all the supplies stockpiled, before April (Shrier). In April, the troops of the Middle East and an Anzac corp was assigned to the operation (Shrier). In all the operation have dealt the Allies a devastating blow consuming over 56,000 troops killed, and another 226,000 missing (World Wars). Both of the invasions had crippled one of the powers and that power would no longer be a threat.

The tank will probably go down in history, as the finest, feared piece of mechanized mobile force unit used in warfare. However, there were several steps of development taken into account and upgrades to the first tanks, to what these machines look like today. There is not one person who, one could credit for the development of the tank (Duffy). The tanks were originally called “landships,” cause at first they were used by the British Navy (Duffy). The first tank used in warfare, was on September 8, 1915, by the British Army (Warfare). The model of the tank used was Mark I, named little willie (Warfare). This machine was sad to be the answer to crossing the deadly “No Man’s Land” (Warfare). Unlike most other armored warfare vehicles, tanks run on caterpillar treads (Warfare). These caterpillar treads allowed it to get over many of the obstacles in the rough terrain of “No Man’s Land” (Warfare). Many obstacles that these tanks had to face included: barbed wire, boulders, craters, artillery shattered trees, mud, and also dead soldiers. Although this new piece of machinery was very useful in both World Wars, they were very unreliable (Warfare). They easily broke down, got stuck in the mud, and were very slow allowing the enemy to encircle them very quickly and decommission them. These tanks traveled 3 to 4 miles per hour on smooth flat terrain, and 2 miles per hour on rough terrain (Duffy). However, who could complain about the tanks, making trench warfare an option (Warfare)? Either stick to the old way of just standing in the crowded trenches or be support troops to guide the tanks and take the fight right to enemies front lines (Warfare). But in the summers of 1917, one army general was determined to prove the tanks worthiness (World Wars). Lieutenant Colonel George S. Patton who was in command of a battalion of tanks, to break through the lines of the Germans and push them out of France (World Wars). But before the planned day of the attack, he decided to do a bit of research, to crawl through the fields of “No Man\’s Land,” and turned that research into intelligence (World Wars). Patton demonstrated good military leadership with how he used his scouting a route for his tanks into intelligence, and with that intelligence into action, very quickly (World Wars). Eventually, tanks would become less bulky, faster, and also more durable; as WWII starts to unfold.

The war in Europe was the beginning of a tech era for the 20th century (World Wars). It was no longer about the old ways of men on horseback anymore but, now a war of attrition fought with motorized technological devices designed for mass slaughter (World Wars). The slaughter was ruthless, killing around 230 men every hour, which is one death every fifteen seconds (World Wars). The instrument responsible for such horrendous killing is the machine gun (World Wars). The machine gun was designed by Hiram Maxim in 1884 (Warfare). This gun is the first ever gun of which did not require hand power, allowing for a very high rate of fire (Warfare). However, the guns were very heavy, requiring three to six men to operate the gun, eventually, the gun would become lighter and only require two men to operate in WWII (Warfare). This gun shifted to be a very valuable asset to both sides, and soon both sides requested some structure in which would protect the operation crew of the guns (Warfare). The invention would soon become known as the pillbox, or known today as a bunker. Pretty soon the idea of that, if one dug even shallow trenches and have a nest of machine guns with a small number of troops, can stop a large attacking force (World Wars).

One of the most inhuman forms of torture weapons in history is chemical weapons. There are two forms of chemical weapons; mustard gas, and nerve gas (Reutter). The first use of mustard gas was on July 12, 1917; in which the Germans unleashed the gas onto the British at Ypres, in Belgium (Reutter). Mustard gas was the main form of gas used in WWI (Reutter). Although the death rate from exposure to the gas was only 2%, it was responsible for 77% of all the casualties from gas, which acquired the lives of 400,000 men (Reutter). More significantly is that all who were exposed were affected in a way. About 95% of the exposed victims were later diagnosed with respiratory problems (Reutter). Not only did mustard gas cause respiratory problems but, also some victims were affected in which they developed skin and eye lesions, in the form of mustard colored blisters (Reutter). Of those who developed eye lesions, 97% of them were temporarily blinded (Reutter). But, if someone were to be exposed to a high concentration of the gas, that person would be likely to have relapsing effects (Reutter). However, unlike the skin and eye lesions, of which would disappear over the years, the respiratory problems developed were forever, of which could develop into cancer or other diseases (Reutter).

Although even after the war was over and the need for chemical weapons diminished, after the 1925 Geneva Convention which only outlawed the use of chemical weapons, not realizing that countries would still be able to produce mustard gas (Reutter). This, in turn, caused many nations to produce massive stockpiles of the gas (Reutter). The chemical weapons were still being used on humans in WWII (Reutter). There were numerous accounts of businesses exposing their employees to mustard gas (Reutter). Perhaps this was to keep the development procedure and building design of how to store the gas kept secret. As the wartime stories of WWI started to fade into the night, the people once again started to underestimate the very power of the gas. Perhaps there might have been some form of vaccine invented to help with the battle against the mustard gas. The exposed victims had no idea that the chemicals that they have been working with, were used against them until it was too late (Reutter). Even with a low concentration of the gas, many have experienced chronic disability (Reutter). Everywhere the gas traveled, and everything that was touched, was contaminated, and it lingered in the trenches for days (Reutter). This very gas was so deadly and destructive to the human body that some humans have mutated (Reutter). Many did not recognize the gas cause it had very little odor and if one were to smell it, it would smell like garlic (Reutter). Its properties cause disruption and spread of decaying matter in only a few hours after exposure (Reutter).

One of many of the victims who were temporarily blinded was German Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler (World Wars). He would, later on, follow the ways in which Stalin did with how he dealt with all of his political opponents, but on an even grander scale (World Wars). He sent Jews, political opponents, and all other he deemed undesirable to death camps spread out all across Germany (World Wars). The favorable method of execution at this death camps used was gas (World Wars). Hitler knew what it had felt like to be gassed, and so he constructed vast amounts of gas chambers throughout all of his 1,500 death camps in Germany (World Wars). But also Hitler’s outrage to the German surrender in WWI while being temporarily blinded and taken from the front lines, upset him so much, that in his right mind he came up with the idea of Blitzkrieg from his experience with the gas. Blitzkrieg was somewhat based off of Schlieffen\’s plan. Schlieffen’s plan was to take France in six weeks, which did not happen. Blitzkrieg otherwise known as lightning war is when one takes fast moving forces and sends them out into the fields (World Wars). It was the combination of aircraft, armor units, infantry, and artillery; all put together into one unified force to destroy the enemy (Warfare). They were to spare no one, bomb every city, every town, and annihilate the enemy (World Wars). It\’s basically like attacking the human body, the arms and legs and outside body are fine but, what they attack is the nervous system, and when they do, that person can’t act fast enough to stop them (World Wars).

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