The Charge of the Light Brigade
The Charge of the Light Brigade—1 day
Alliance casualties: 363 (40% of the cavalry who charged)
Russian/Turk casualties: very few
Flanders is a very old term for the geographical area that makes up a portion of northern France and southern Belgium. This area was part of the "Western Front" where the most extensive trench warfare took place during World War I.
Previous wars had been about movement, armies sweeping over vast areas as they conquered their enemies. With newer, more accurate machine guns, WWI proved to be very different. As Germany attempted to battle its way into France, they were forced to retreat to the Aisne River where they dug trenches, expecting to be there only a few months. When the Allies drew near, they, too, dug trenches.
Many of the same trenches were used for four years! Those newer, more accurate machine guns made it easy for opposing sides to mow down soldiers as they rose above the trenches when trying to advance. It was a long and bloody stalemate with neither side able to advance.
Just how futile and bloody was it? Here are some statistics to illustrate the huge number of casualties. Armies didn't keep very accurate records, so numbers are approximations. "Casualties" are those killed, wounded, or missing. These are just some of the major battles on the Western Front:
First Battle of the Marne—1 week
Allied casualties: 87,000
German casualties: 68,000
Second Battle of the Marne—3 weeks
Allied casualties: 133,000
German casualties: 168,000
Battle of the Somme—4 1/2 months
Allied casualties: 620,000
German casualties: 435,00 (some estimates are 500,000)
Battle of Verdun—10 months
Allied casualties: 350,000
German casualties: 350,000
First Battle of Ypres—1 month
Allied casualties: 150,000
German casualties: 134,000
Second Battle of Ypres—1 month
Allied casualties: 87,000
German casualties: 35,000
Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)—3 months
Allied casualties: 260,00 (some estimates are 300,000)
German casualties: 260,000 (some estimates are 400,000)
The Allied Powers wanted access to the Mediterranean Sea to provide naval and supply support from Russia. This meant Russians ships needed to be able to travel from their ports on the Black Sea, through the Dardanelles Strait to the Aegean Sea and then to the Mediterranean.
Troops from Britain, Australia, and New Zealand (all Allies) landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula and faced well entrenched Turkish forces who held them off in the months long battle.
Gallipoli Campaign—8 1/2 months
Allied casualties: 192,000 (plus another 100,000 evacuated due to sickness)
Central Powers casualties: 186,000 (plus another 64,000 evacuated due to sickness)
Bundesarchiv Bild 104-0832, Soldaten in Kampfpause in Schützengraben. circa 1916. German Federal Archive. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 7 May 2017.
The Crimean War - Episode 2 The Valley of Death. Dir. Mick Gold. YouTube. UKTV, 15 June 2011. Web. 07 May 2017.
"The Eastern Front, 1914-17." The National Archives. The National Archives of the UK, n.d. Web. 2 May 2017.
Esposito, Vincent J., and T. Dodson Stamps, eds. "Race to the Sea 1914." A Short Military History of World War I - Atlas. N.p.: n.p., 1950. N. pag. Wikimedia
Commons. Web. 7 May 2017. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Race_to_the_Sea_1914.png>.
Freedman, Russell. The War to End All Wars: World War I. Boston: Sandpiper, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. Print.
Kenney, Karen Latchana, and Edward G. Lengel. Everything World War I. Washington, D.C., U.S.A.: National Geographic Society, 2014. Print.
Krasnoborski, Edward J. "Battle of the Marne." United States Military Academy. N.p.: Department of History, 1938. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 7 May
Moore, William E., and James C. Russell. American's Wearing Gas Masks during World War I. N.d. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 7 May 2017.
Rasmussen, R. Kent. World War I for Kids: A History with 21 Activities. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review, 2014. Print.