Pictures of World War I

Each Worth 1000 Words…

Ground War

Armies are responsible for the enactment of warfare on the ground. Transport of those armies to the battle zones required a plethora of equipment and supplies to ensure that the objectives of the war were met. The size of the armies involved in World War 1 required logistics (detailed organization and implementation of a complex operational organization) that enabled efficient mobilization of the ground forces and transportation of their supplies to the fighting fields of Europe and Asia.

In this war the fighting was mostly conducted in fields, on fronts with armies on their feet.

The Marching Soldier Of The Great War

The enlisted soldiers were trained to march in formation, to attack in formation, to defend in formation, as armies had been trained to do in the past. Close-order drill had value for ceremonies, for moving troops on foot and also provided a psychological grounding for teamwork and discipline. The men and women were recruited, trained, transported and marched to the fronts. They carried their own equipment and guns. They learned, as the war progressed, that this was not good strategy against the modern weapons of the time (the British were slow to learn!). Rapid fire gun artillery and tanks proved to be the death of the infantry soldier. Tanks, developed by the British and improved by others, were the new armored vehicles that transported guns and the gunners to their firing vantage points, without being “taken out”. That is, until the advent of the airplane.

People Wagons In World War One

The nature of the terrain where ground warfare took place required the use, often imaginative use, of any transport available. The weather and environmental factors had an enormous impact on the outcome of the battles. Skis were used in the mountains of Austria, sleds in Russia in winter, airplanes in the Jungles of Guinea and farmers carts the world over.

Maneuverability was a necessity thus bikes and motorbikes, automobiles and trucks; taxis, buses and even farm animals, were commandeered to transport the men to the battle zones. The fronts themselves were mobile, although many stagnated for long periods of time. Any wheeled vehicle that could move over the ground was utilized. When rubber was in short supply iron wheel rims were substituted for the tires on trucks.

It was also necessary to transport the injured from the battlefields to where medical care could be provided. By the codes of warfare the red or white crosses displayed on these vehicles rendered them immune to enemy fire.

The Guns of WW1

Wagon mounted guns, used for firing from behind the lines or over the English Channel, required adaptation of the mount in order to accommodate the gun to whatever vehicle was moving it, by whatever power was available, be it animal, truck, boat or train.

On the ground mobile siege mortars weighed in at 75 tons. They were transported by rail in 5 sections and set in concrete before being fired. Their range was 9 miles with a crew of 200 men! These guns demolished the forts at Liege and moved with the front allowing the taking of Brussels by the Germans.

Army Supply Chains and Tunnels

Broken links in the supply chains proved to be instrumental in the breakdown of the German forces towards the end of the war; her armies were starving as were their guns (lack of ammunition). In order to fight the trench battles they needed guns, ammunition, artillery, food, clothes, housing for all of the long and weary years. It required ten attackers for each defender and advanced artillery support to have any reasonable chance of a victory in the ground conflicts within Europe.

Both the Central Powers and the British Forces employed mining engineers, ex-miners, and even clay kickers (laborers who built the London Underground Railway), within their armies, as “tunnelers”. They built the in-ground tunnels used to access the front lines. Thus the soldiers avoided enemy artillery shells, used stealth tactics and concealed the laying of mines.

The Staggering Figures

The vast military holocaust of the years 1914 -1918 saw the collapse of great empires and dynasties. In total 68 million people were mobilized, of those 21 million were injured and 10 million died. Most of them were involved in ground warfare. Of course these figures do not include civilian casualties.

If you look at just infantry and ground forces, nearly half (or 1 out of every 2 soldiers) of the mobilized forces in World War I were injured or killed.