Where: The Hampton Inn

Cost: $115.00 for 4 session(s)

Type: In Person


Instructor: University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

In 1916, after the ‘sideshows’ had failed to make an impact on the deadlock on the Western Front, the warring nations re-evaluated their strategies in the hope of achieving the ‘breakthrough’ that would ensure final victory. These changes resulted in several of the most epic battles of the war, adding to the casualty horrors in the combatant nations. At the end of the year, however, the stalemate remained.

Week 1: Verdun
Verdun was an eleven-month battle that has come to symbolize both the futility of strategy and the enormous casualties of the war. France and Germany struggled in a seemingly unending hell that caused an outrageously high toll of dead and wounded. Even worse, neither side in the end had gained any significant tactical or strategic advantage.

Week 2: The First Day of the Somme
On 1 July 1916 the British army, in order to relieve the pressure on the French at Verdun, launched an attack over a 12 mile front by some 150,000 troops. In little more than two hours, the British lost 21,000 killed and 39,000 wounded, the worst day ever in the annals of the British military. Yet the battle of the Somme continued into November, with neither side achieving anything of importance.

Week 3: The Sykes-Picot Treaty
After the failures at Gallipoli and Kut in 1915, the British and French now sought to unleash an ‘Arab Revolt’ as a means of knocking Turkey out of the war. One hundred years later the provisions of this initially secret treaty still affect the complicated politics of the Middle East. ISIS, for example, has proclaimed one of its aims is the destruction of the consequences of the treaty. Why this treaty has such significance will be emphasized because World War I in the Middle East was not just the Lawrence of Arabia show.

Week 4: The ‘Brusilov Offensive’ and the battle of Jutland
In the summer of 1915 the one nation to enjoy military success, surprisingly enough, was Russia. Having finally found excellent leadership in Alexei Brusilov, Russia nearly removed Austria-Hungary from the war. In the end, however, with the intervention of the German army, Russia’s gains availed little. The battle of Jutland was the largest naval engagement of the Great War when the German High Seas fleet finally emerged to challenge the British Grand fleet. Both sides claimed victory; and the British navy lost twice as many ships and casualties. In the end the British won a strategic victory because the German navy never again came out in force.

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