Printer Friendly

Poetry of World War I.

Battle of the Argonne Forest

The Battle of the Argonne Forest was fought during September and October 1918. It was the allied forces' final offensive against the Germans.


The devastating campaign in Turkey began in February 1915 with landings by the allies. The allies suffered heavy losses and began to evacuate in 1916. In 1915 Rupert Brooke died of blood poisoning in Skyros in the Dardanelles while on his way to take part in the campaign.

Trench Warfare

British military chiefs believed that a small professional mobile offensive utilizing the newly invented British tanks would be sufficient to win World War I, which was anticipated to be a brief war that would not require massive mobilization. The use of tanks as effective shock weapons on the battlefields of France and Belgium, known as "Flanders," was prevented when the Germans dug into miles of barbed-wire-lined trenches. The Germans' newly improved machine guns and long-range recoil artillery gave them strong advantage in battle.

Verdun and the Battles of the Somme

For almost ten months during 1915 the allies battled to repel a German attack at Verdun, France. Ultimately the Germans lost, but both sides suffered heavy losses. For his courageous fighting in that first Battle of the Somme, Siegfried Sassoon received the Military Cross.

From July to November 1916 the allies fought using British tanks in the Battle of the Somme to relieve Verdun. It has been estimated that the battle cost 400,000 British lives, 200,000 French lives, and about 400,000 to 500,000 German lives to gain the allied forces 125 square miles of no particular strategic importance. The Somme River was the setting used by Ivor Gurney in his first book of poetry, Severn and Somme. Wilfred Owen fought from January to May 1917 as an officer in the Battle of the Somme. Subsequently he was "invalided" out of the military with shell shock.

The final Battle of the Somme took place in the spring of 1918. During this battle the Germans tried unsuccessfully to split the allied forces. Once again, the battle caused a great number of deaths and casualties.


Ypres, in "Flanders," Belgium, near the border of France, was the site of three major battles in World War I. At the first battle in the autumn of 1914 the German offensive in Belgium was halted by the British troops. The second battle in the spring of 1915 marked the first time that the poison gas chlorine was used in combat by the Germans. The third battle, called the "Passchendaele offensive," was fought from July through November 1917. During this battle the British advance of five miles was made at the cost of 400,000 British lives and the demoralization of the army. In the third battle Ivor Gurney, on his second tour to the front lines suffered from the effects of poison gas during the summer of 1917. He was returned to a mental hospital in England.

COPYRIGHT 1992 HarperCollins Publishers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Literary Names and Terms: People and Places; trench warfare; battles of Argonne, Gallipoli, Verdun, Somme, and Ypres
Author:McCoy, Kathleen; Harlan, Judith
Publication:English Literature from 1785
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:Transition to the new century.
Next Article:William Bulter Yeats.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |