Category: trench warfare

French infantry manning a forward line of tr…

French infantry manning a forward line of trenches in Lorraine, January 1915.

One of the lessons learnt in 1915 and 1916 was that holding forward trenches like this. Packing the firing trench with men was a sure way to get men killed during the artillery barrage that preceded an attack. Doctrine took time to catch up to the reality of war and none of the armies on the Western Front in 1915 knew what would work.
Some German generals would continue to attempt to hold the front line in strength well into 1917, despite official orders stating otherwise. Goes to show that personal tendencies of local commanders sometimes mattered more than doctrine.

Exchanging addresses during the relief. 1/6t…

Exchanging addresses during the relief. 1/6th North Staffs and 50th French Infantry, Neuville St Vaast, February 1916.

This nasty looking weapon is described in th…

This nasty looking weapon is described in the original IWM accession register of 1917 as a ‘Casse Boche’ with the suggestion that it was used by the French in the 2nd Battle of Champagne in 1917. It is constructed from a naturally gnarled piece of wood, weighted with lead and fitted with iron spikes. It is too long to make an effective club if the leather hand grip is held. It may well be that it was intended primarily as an officer’s walking stick.

Holy shit.

Leather-bound length of MG08 barrel, with le…

Leather-bound length of MG08 barrel, with leather wrist strap used as a trench club. This unusual (possibly unique) trench club is probably German in origin. It is constructed from the cut-down barrel of a German MG 08 machine-gun, which has been bound in leather. The barrel, evidently, had been discarded due to damage, or having simply become worn-out.

Officers of an Australian Heavy Battery (Royal…

Officers of an Australian Heavy Battery (Royal Australian Battery of 9.2" howitzers) resting near Fricourt, August 1916.

Australian tunnellers excavating at Hulluch Tu…

Australian tunnellers excavating at Hulluch Tunnels, 30 January 1918.

Australian Electrical and Mechanical Company…

Australian Electrical and Mechanical Company’s dug-out at Arras. 25 October 1918.

Two army cooks of the 4th Australian Divisio…

Two army cooks of the 4th Australian Division stand in a landscape of waterlogged trenches on Westhoek Ridge during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), 9 October 1917.

The interior of 3rd Australian Tunnelling Co…

The interior of 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company’s Mine Rescue Station at Hulluch, near Loos, France, 31 January 1918. 
The sapper is wearing a ‘Proto’ breathing apparatus and carries a small cage containing a white mouse or canary for testing the air conditions underground.

Trooper A M Maxwell (later Captain Maxwell),…

Trooper A M Maxwell (later Captain Maxwell), sniping up Dead Man’s Gully from Quinn’s Post, Gallipoli, August 1915.