Pictures of World War I

Each Worth 1000 Words…


The Great War was the first war to encompass all of Planet Earth. Not all countries were active participants but the Allied and the Central Power nations, 34 of them, were spread around the world – a world comprised mostly of oceans and seas. It is transportation technology that moves soldiers and weaponry; thus it was that ships were of major importance in the overall transport of the mobilized armed forces during World War 1.

The Great War At Sea

The geographical positioning of the various countries programmed the manufacturing and deployment of the ships involved in the war. Great Britain relied on the Royal Navy not only to ensure necessary imports of food and other supplies but also to sever the Central Powers’ access to the markets of the world. Geographically the Allies enjoyed easier access to the oceans for trade and deployment, thus their ships were merchant cargo vessels or the navies defensive ships.

In the convoy system groups of merchant ships sailed within a protective ring of destroyers and other naval escorts. It was logistically possible and economically worthwhile to provide this kind of escort for a group of ships.

The USNs submarines were used as cargo and cargo transport support whilst the U-boats were attack weapons.

WWI On Land With Animal Transport

Throughout World War 1 animals dominated the ground transport scene. All kinds of animals were used, the cavalry man on horseback, the pigeon carrying a message and the oxen. The heavy-duty dray animal of the Mediterranean world was used for military purposes when heavy loads were involved and speed was not critical.

Technology allowed the development of motorized transport to slowly replace the use of animals as the major method of transportation whether it was bringing the ammunition to the trenches or the men their food.

Motor Vehicle Transport In The First World War

Motorized trucks, cars and bicycles were used on an increasing scale. They complemented the train systems and they were powered vehicles that could travel on ordinary roads and even unprepared surfaces, within the operating zones of armies forward of railheads. The development of the internal-combustion engine, the pneumatic tire, and the endless track made it possible to build vehicles with any number of combinations of these features. A truck could convey the largest gun to the most inhospitable site or the two wheel motorcycle could get the emergency supplies there the fastest (where speed was the concern)

When supplied by motor transport, mechanized armies, particularly in the European theatre, achieved a mobility and striking power never seen before.

WW1 Trains and Railroads

All countries had working railroad systems prior to the outbreak of war. Mostly the governments took control of them. Germany’s recognized efficiency in mobilization of troops influenced the war plans of all the European powers in 1914. According to one estimate, Germany’s railway network made it possible to move eight divisions simultaneously from the Western Front to the Eastern Front in four and a half days.

The Russians relied heavily on their train systems for troop and ancillary transportation over vast distances. It so happened that the unreliability of their telephone system, necessary for the operation of the railroad, was one of the stumbling blocks that they contended with during their involvement in the war.

On the Western Front the building of small gauge rail was undertaken by Engineering Corps within the armies as the railway lines were destroyed in battles.  Trench railways linked the front with standard gauge railway facilities beyond the range of enemy artillery and were used for the supply of ammunition and stores, the transport of troops and the evacuation of the wounded.

Allies And Central Powers In the Air

Airplanes had not developed sufficiently, technically, to be used as a viable or an economic option for transportation. They were used for surveillance, reconnaissance, air superiority (dog fights), tactical ground support and strategic bombing. In 1915 French pilots were raiding in massed formation and the Russian built, 4 engine, Murometz plane was able to carry 800kg of bombs on aerial raids.

The planes were not long distance fliers so they themselves needed to be transported to the airfields where they were stationed. Flatbed armored tankers were utilized and the British HMS Arc Royal was probably the prototype for the modern aircraft carrier. She was originally laid down as a merchant ship, but was converted to be hybrid airplane/seaplane carrier with a launch platform.

Launched 1914, she served in the Dardanelles campaign and throughout the First World War.