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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2013

12 - The war at sea

from Part II - Theatres of War


The year 1917 began an important transition on the battlefield. The battles of Cambrai, Riga and Caporetto represented the start of a shift from the infantry-based age of mass assaults to the mechanical, combined-arms approach that featured infantry working with aviation, artillery and armour in various combinations. This transition showed the fulfilment of the Industrial Revolution and its impacts on war. Nivelle's optimism was infectious among politicians who wanted desperately to believe that he had unlocked the secret to modern warfare. Douglas Haig, the British commander, had received discouraging reports about the French army, including some that suggested that French soldiers were demanding peace and refusing to salute their officers. Haig concluded that his long-desired offensive in Flanders offered the best way to draw the Germans away from the French and give his ally the time it desperately needed.

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