Weapons & Trench Warfare World War One Total War/Modern Warfare
The industrialization of society from the Industrial Revolution would generate many military applications of new technology In 1915 British Admiral Jacky Fisher wrote, “The war is going to be won by inventions.” Machine gun Rapid fire artillery Airplanes Internal combustion engine Tanks Zeppelins Gas Flamethrowers Technological Advances from World War I
New Technology & WWI • New technology had not broken the “stalemate” of WWI – in fact they helped create it – the only real impact of technology was the dramatic increase in war death/injury & the impact of war on civilian populations – death tolls increased & civilian centers now became legitimate targets • Technological advancements surpassed military field strategy of “frontal assault charges” which had existed for millennia – this only increased battlefield casualties • Some significant technological developments: • Tanks – originally designed to break the stalemate of the trenches – became the future of ground warfare • Planes – war was taken to the skies • Submarines – in existence since the American Revolution – was now “perfected” • Chemical Warfare – mustard gas & choking poisons were used by all sides • Land Mines – used to destroy tanks • Telephone & Radio – communication & coordination devices • All-Steel Ships – increased size & gun capability • Long-Range Artillery – used to “soften up” enemy positions • Machine Guns – ended the military tactic of the “frontal assault” (not until some 11 million were dead first)
The changes of war • New weapons crippled the “frozen front” • Poison gas (mustard gas) • Hand grenades • Flame throwers • Tanks • Airplanes • Tanks • Subs
The World War I Battlefield • New weapons • Poison gas, other new weapons response to massive deadlock • Two systems of trenches stretched hundreds of miles, western Europe • Millions of Allied and Central Powers soldiers in trenches of Western Front • Trench warfare • Trench warfare not new idea • Soldiers had long hidden behind mounds of earth • Scale of 1914 Europe trench warfare never before experienced • Life in trenches • Rainstorms produced deep puddles, mud • Lice, rats, bad sanitation constant problems • Removing dead bodies often impossible
The World War I Battlefield • Over the top • Soldiers ordered out of trenches to attack enemy • Sprinting across area known as “no-man’s-land” a deadly game • Thousands on both sides died, cut down by enemy guns • New weapons • Neither side able to make significant advances on enemy’s trenches • Each side turned to new weapons like poison gas • Value limited, both sides developed gas masks • More effective • Other new weapons more effective than poison gas • Rapid-fire machine guns in wide use • Artillery and high-explosive shells, enormous destructive power
U-Boats Germany suffered because of the British blockade, so it developed small submarines called U-boats to strike back at the British. U-boats are named after the German for “undersea boat.” In February 1915 the German government declared the waters around Great Britain a war zone, threatening to destroy all enemy ships. Germany warned the U.S. that neutral ships might be attacked. The German plan for unrestricted submarine warfare angered Americans, and Wilson believed it violated the laws of neutrality. Wilson held Germany accountable for American losses. America’s Involvement In 1915, Germany sank a luxury passenger ship to Great Britain called the Lusitania, killing many, including 128 Americans Americans were outraged, and Wilson demanded an end to unrestricted submarine warfare. The Germans agreed to attack only supply ships but later sank the French passenger ship Sussex, killing 80 people. Wilson threatened Germany again, and Germany issued the Sussex pledge, promising not to sink merchant vessels “without warning and without saving human lives.” German Submarine Warfare
Submarines • On Feb 1, 1917, the Germans pursued unrestricted submarine warfare with the order “To all U-boats, sink on sight.” • In 11 months, the Germans sank 2,966 Allied or neutral ships carrying food, munitions, or men • 1 in 4 British ships were sunk • This led to the USA joining the war against the Germans • British started to sail in convoys escorted by warships and sea mines to break the German submarine control of the seas
Changing Technology This photo shows some of the early experimental submarines that were developed during World War I. The submarine was part of the modern style of warfare that was introduced in World War I. The German navy had approximately 100 submarines in service during WWI. Initially the Germans used submarines to threaten the Allies' economic blockade. In 1917 the German Kaiser declared unrestricted U-boat warfare against the allies, including neutral ships in British waters. In response, the Allies established armed convoys to protect merchant ships and increased production of mines and depth charges. The sinking of neutral ships, like the Lusitania in 1915, polarized public opinion (against the Germans) about the war, and was a major factor in the decision of the United States to join the Allied caused. Photo: Courtesy Queen’s University Archives
German Miscalculation • Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917 • Notified US of decision Jan 31 • Sunk several US ships in Feb and Mar • US declared war on April 6, 1917 • At the same time Russia was withdrawing from the war (Remember from Lesson 11), the US was entering • Germany failed to end war before the US entered it
A New Kind of Warfare Word of Germany’s invasion of Belgium quickly spread to France and other European nations. • French troops mobilized to meet approaching German divisions. • They looked much as French soldiers did over 40 years earlier, wearing bright red coats and heavy brass helmets. • The German troops dressed in gray uniforms that worked as camouflage on the battlefield. • French war strategy had not changed much since the 1800s. • French soldiers marched row by row onto the battlefield, with bayonets mounted to their field rifles, preparing for close combat with the Germans. • The Germans, however, had many machine guns, and mowed down some 15,000 French troops per day in early battle. • A well-trained German machine-gun team could set up equipment in four seconds, and each machine gun matched the firepower of 50 to 100 French rifles. • Many Europeans wrongly thought these technological advances would make the war short and that France would be defeated in two months.
Maxim Machine Gun • A gun that fires off a stream of bullets---about 10 bullets every second • One machine gun was said to be worth 80 rifles • Good for defending trenches • Weights 62kg and needs to rest on a stand • It gets hot very quickly and bullets can jam • At the start of the war, the Germans had 12,000 • By the end of the war, they had 100,000
Super Killing Machines: • They drove men into trenches and foxholes. • War, became a battle of inches (stalemate)
Machine Guns • Could fire over 1000 cartridges per minute • When the enemy would charge into the open, the machine guns would cut them down by the thousands • Led to the development of trenches to escape the deadly gunfire
The Machine Gun Germans first to mass produce it– the British thought it was not “sporting”
Artillery Industrialization & the arms race created artillery that fired with greater power and carried much farther than before.
Tanks • When soldiers began to carry gas masks, they still faced a stalemate. • British forces soon developed armored tanks to move into no-man’s-land. • These tanks had limited success because many got stuck in the mud. • Germans soon found ways to destroy the tanks with artillery fire. • Poisonous Gas • German military scientists experimented with gas as a weapon. • Gas in battle was risky: Soldiers didn’t know how much to use, and wind changes could backfire the gas. • Then Germans threw canisters of gas into the Allies’ trenches. • Many regretted using gas, but British and French forces began using it too, to keep things even. • Airplanes • Both sides used planes to map and to attack trenches from above. • Planes first dropped brinks and heavy objects on enemy troops. • Soon they mounted guns and bombs on planes. • Skilled pilots sought in air battles called dogfights. • The German Red Baron downed 80 Allied planes, until he was shot down. New Weapons of War
CHEMICAL WARFARE • Types: Mustard, Chlorine, & Phosgene • Drifted in the wind—often affected their own • troops
Gruesome Gases • Lacrymators: a type of tear gas that makes you go blind for a while. Even a tiny amount makes your eyes sting. • Sternutators: gives you a headache and makes you sick. It arrives in a high-explosive shell before the enemy can put on the gas masks. • Suffocating: gases that are used to kill. Breathe in these gases, and your lungs fill up with liquid. You drown in your own body fluids. • Phosgene: smells like rotten hay but doesn’t make your nose or your eyes itch, so you don’t know you have breathed it in until you start to choke to death • Vesicant: British called it mustard gas. It has no smell, so the enemy don’t know they have been gassed until it is too late.
Poison Gas • French army used tear-gas grenades, then the Germans expanded on the poison gases • ChlorineGas-destroyed the respiratory organs and led to a slow death by asphyxiation • PhosgeneGas-caused the victim to violently cough & choke; often a delayed reaction up to 48 hours • Mustard Gas-used later in the war in 1917; almost odorless & took 12 hours to take into effect; caused serious blisters internally & externally; remained active in the soil for several weeks • Germans used 68,000 tons of poison gas • France used almost 37,000 tons • Britain used more than 25,000 tons • 91,198 soldiers died due to poison gas attacks • 1.2 million were hospitalized due to poison gas attacks
Mustard Gas • The most lethal of all the poisonous chemicals used during the war, it was almost odorless and took twelve hours to take effect. • Yperite was so powerful that only small amounts had to be added to high explosive shells to be effective. • Once in the soil, mustard gas remained active for several weeks. • The skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, the eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. • Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. • This was extremely painful and most soldiers had to be strapped to their beds. It usually took a person four or five weeks to die of mustard gas poisoning • One nurse, Vera Brittain, wrote: "I wish those people who talk about going on with this war whatever it costs could see the soldiers suffering from mustard gas poisoning. Great mustard-coloured blisters, blind eyes, all sticky and stuck together, always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke."
“Death is everywhere” • Mustard gas • Also known as yellow cross or Yperite • Carried by the wind • Burned out soldier’s lungs • Deadly in the trenches where it would sit at the bottom
Poison Gas • “It was our first experience with mustard gas. The men we took were covered in blisters. The size of your palm most of them. In any tender, warm place, under the arms, between the legs, and over the face and neck. All their eyes streaming, and hurting in a way that sin never hurts.”
Burned body & lungs • caused blindness, asphyxiation, & death • Chemical Warfare banned after World War I Survivors of a Gas Attack
If you are caught in a gas attack without a gas helmet, you were told to: • Take out your handkerchief. • Urinate into the materials till it is soaked. • Tie it round your mouth and nose and breathe through it.
Poetry from the First World War was written by soldiers who served at the Western Front. • They saw the horrors of War first hand. • They wrote about what they really saw. • Their poems were published just after thewar, so they were not censored. They are first hand and often unbiased sources.
“Bombed Last Night”-a Trench Song about Poison Gas • Bombed last night, and bombed the night before. Going to get bombed tonight if we never get bombed anymore.When we're bombed, we're scared as we can be.Can't stop the bombing from old Higher Germany. • They're warning us, they're warning us.One shell hole for just the four of us.Thank your lucky stars there are no more of us.So one of us can fill it all alone.
“Bombed Last Night” Cont. • Gassed last night, and gassed the night before. Going to get gassed tonight if we never get gassed anymore.When we're gassed, we're sick as we can be.For phosgene and mustard gas is much too much for me. • They're killing us, they're killing us.One respirator for the four of us.Thank your lucky stars that we can all run fast.So one of us can take it all alone.
WILFRED OWEN Wilfred Owen is one of the more famous War Poets. He was born March 18th, 1893. He joined the Army in 1915 as an Officer in the “Artists Rifles”. Wilfred Owen served in some of the worst conditions during the following months.
DULCE ET DECORUM EST By Wilfred Owen
Bent double like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge.