Was World War I
an avoidable debacle ?
Toward the end of 1905, the German Chief of Army Staff, Alfred von Schlieffen devised a plan to fend off a joint attack by Britain, France, and Russia. As it was imperative that France be defeated quickly before Russia could mobilize its troops, the Schlieffen Plan involved attacking France through Belgium and Luxembourg and gaining a quick victory within six weeks and then focusing on the eastern frontiers before Russia attacked.
In their attempt to execute the Schlieffen Plan, Germany invaded Belgium and parts of France. The plan failed when the German troops were prevented from taking Paris and defeated at the Battle of the Marne. The Central Powers then attempted to outflank the Allies through the northeast and to enter central France. The Allied troops in turn tried to outflank the German troops to thwart the attempt. A number of battles were fought in this Race to the Sea.
A number of battles were fought in the Race to the Sea, which began in September 1914 and ended with the First Battle of Ypres.
The end of the Battle of the Aisne marked the beginning of the outflanking maneuvers of both troops. The First Battle of Picardy lasted from September 22 to 26, 1914. The Battle of Albert was fought from September 25 to 29 between the French Tenth Army and the German Sixth Army, and the Germans moved to Bapaume and Thiepval.
In the First Battle of Artois, fought between September 27 and October 10, Erich von Falkenhayn, German Commander in Chief ordered the German Sixth Army, under the command of Crown Prince Rupprecht, to attack Arras. Falkenhayn then turned north to focus on Flanders.
The next four battles fought in quick succession were the Battle of La Bassée from October 10 to November 2, the Battle of Messines from October 12 to November 2, the Battle of Armentières from October 13 to November 2, and the Battle of the Yser from October 18 to November 30.
The Race to the Sea ended with the First Battle of Ypres, fought from October 19 to November 22. Though the battle ended in a Allied victory, it heralded the start of frustrating trench warfare and the end of mobile war until 1918.
The Race to the Sea ended with the Allied and Central troops digging a line of trenches that ran from the North Sea to the French-Swiss border. This made for about four years of stagnancy and a high number of causalities due to the immobile nature of the war at this front.