World War One dominates the history of the 20th century. Itseffects were felt long after it ended. Its uneasy outcome pavedthe way for a second and worse conflict.
World War One hadmany bloody battles and campaigns, but in this essay I willdiscuss which battle was the most important. Which battle was the most important one in World WarOne? The theme of the war was a huge military effort thatinvolved many battles and about 70 million soldiers, 9 million ofwhich were killed. It is extremely difficult to decide whichbattle is the most important due to these factors. Of the manyimportant battles, I have chosen to summarize a few and tochoose one as the most important.
The first really importantbattle was the first battle of the Marne. In this battle theheavily outnumbered French forces held off the first Germaninvasion at the Marne River. This battle forced the Germans toregroup North of the Marne and destroyed the Schlieffen Plan. The Schlieffen Plan was the German plan of attack.
Itsobjective was to knock the French out of the war before Russiawould conquer eastern Germany. It unleashed three quartersof the German army in a giant westward sweep across Belgiumand Luxembourg, and then into a giant wheel South into France. This plan accepted the risks of an early Russian attack on theeastern front, so when the French destroyed it the Germanobjective wasn’t attained and it left the Russians with an openwindow for an attack. The Russians took this opportunity andattacked, which brings us to our second most important battle.
The Russians sent two armies into Germany that met inTannenberg. Due to an error one army arrived before theother, but still had superior numbers. The battle ofTannenberg was a lot like the First battle of the Marne. In itand overwhelmed and outnumbered defensive force destroyedan offensive force that had superior numbers. The Germanscompletely destroyed the first army that arrived then launcheda counterattack and met the second army at the battle of theMasurian lakes and forced them to retreat too.
In both battlescombined the Germans captured a total of over 100,000 menand 500 guns. Another very important battle in World WarOne was Gallipoli. Winston Chuchill proposed taking Turkeyout of the war by Naval action, and Britain attempted to do thisin the Battle of Gallipoli. The first stage of the battle was aseries of bombardments by the allies along the DardanellesStraits.
Minesweeping then followed along the length of thestrait. If this had been effective the campaign might have beensuccessful, but the threat of mines was not eliminated. Thesecond phase of the battle was the bombardment of moreTurkish positions, but three battleships were destroyed bymines, and three more severely damaged. The effort to forcethe straits was suspended. Instead, as a third phase of theoperation, a land expedition was mounted. This led to theslaughter of the allied armies.
When the allies retreated theyleft behind about 200,000 dead comrades. The loss at Gallipolicaused Winston Churchill to resign as first lord of admiralty. Another very important battle of World War One was the battleof Verdun. The French stationed a lot of forces in Verdun,then Germany attacked. On the first day of the assault morethan one million shells fell on the French positions.
Soon FortDouaumont an important French defensive position north ofVerdun fell to the Germans. The defense of the town wasentrusted to Philippe Petain the next day. The defense ofVerdun soon became an emblem of French military might. Thecity itself was of no strategic importance, but losing it wouldhave been politically catastrophic. For this reason, the Frenchinsisted upon holding the city. The French defended Verdunwith 259 of their 330 infantry regiments.
The more the Frenchresisted, the more important taking Verdun became to theGermans. Eventually another important defensive position, FortVaux, fell to the Germans. Only a few weeks later theGermans almost broke the allied lines, but made no furtherprogress afterwards. About four months after that, the Frenchretook Fort Douaumont and Fort Vaux.
About two months laterthe battle was over. The battle lasted almost a year, but theFrench had held Verdun. One more very important battle ofworld war one was the second battle of the Marne. This tookplace in 1918. The Germans had begun one last offensive. They pushed the allies as far back as the Marne, whereanother battle ensued.
The allies launched a counter-offensiveand pushed the Germans back over the Marne. The loss herebroke the Germans’ morale. From that point on the alliesnever lost the initiative. The allies pushed on through Belgiumand Luxembourg and held the Germans in Germany. The Warwas over.
Overall, I think that the most important battle in WorldWar One was the second battle of the Marne. It broke theGermans’ spirit and forced them to retreat. It also crushedtheir last hope of winning the war.