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Watch The First World War online: Episode 6 Breaking the Deadlock (1915-1917)

The Somme and Verdun saw carnage on an unprecedented scale, as armies fought to break the stalemate on the Western Front. Stalemate; attrition; lions led by donkeys; the slaughter only ceasing for a brief truce one Christmas - these are the conventional views of the Western Front and this episode brings a fresh new appraisal of the conflict in Europe. There was constant tactical evolution on the Front - not a stalemate, but innovation and counter-innovation. It was here that German storm troopers evolved. Artillery was the key weapon of the war - not the machine-gun or the tank, and the trenches were not big killers but in fact saved many lives. The generals did not skulk in chateaux, but over two hundred were killed in action. There were many little truces all along the Western Front, not just one Christmas. However, prisoners on both sides were killed by their captors.

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