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Interactive Timeline of the First World War
The Battle of Cambrai - The First World War - 1917
The battle of Cambrai (Nov 21, 1917) marked the end of Cavalry as an effective military asset. It was the first battle to utilise a large number of tanks, well over 350. Cambrai was chosen because of the hard ground in the area as most of the front was mud and early tanks were unable to traverse this terrain. The build up of the tank force was a surprise to the British soldiers as well as the Germans as it had been kept secret. The aim of the tanks was to break through the German's Hindenburg Line. This line consisted of three layers of trenches supplied by a light railway and defended by many soldiers with guns fortified in concrete pill boxes.
Usually preceding an advance there would be a long artillery barrage, this would alert the defenders that an attack was coming and enable them to be ready. The Germans were taken completely by surprise and the tanks broke through the line very quickly. Because of the speed of the success of the tanks, the British were unable to take advantage of the break in the line as there were not enough men in the area. The Germans eventually retook the land gained by the tanks. Even though the battle of Cambrai did not gain permanent ground, it proved that the tank could be used effectively and successfully. Tanks were soon to be used frequently as an offensive weapon in battle.
battle of Cambrai was written by Graeme Robson, a Year 9 student at
Laisterdyke High School, Bradford. Click
here to view Graeme's Image Slideshow
on this famous battle.
Other Schoolshistory.org.uk resources about the First World War