Sunday, August 25, 2013

Over the Top! Trench Combat in World War One

In our last post, we took a look at scenes of trench life in the First World War. Now we'll take a glance at a trench-launched attack by Allied forces against the German trench lines. 

The Allied Plan: dislodge the Germans from their forward trench lines by attacking over the open stretch of ground known as no-mans land. Once a forest, the trees have been leveled by heavy artillery bombardments.

The German Plan: Hold back all allied attacks by raking the empty expanse of no-man's land with machine gun fire the moment the Allied soldiers come out of their trenches. 
Attacks against trenches were often met with failure. Here, French troops in 1916 are mown down by machine gun fire in an attempt to break the German lines in the battle for Verdun, France.
Americans also had machine guns. Here, an American in a machine gun nest keep watch for a suspected German attack in 1918.

Launching the attack! In the trench lines of Northern France, Allied soldiers go over the top in an attack against the German trenches across the field. Armed with rifles with attached bayonets, American infantrymen charge in the foreground while French soldiers attack from their lines in the background, recognizable by their bluish wool coats.

Now, as the Allied soldiers launch their attack, a German sentry spots movement from his post and quickly alerts his comrades.


This German is armed with a Mauser bolt-action rife. Near his hand rests a hand grenade with a wooden throwing handle, often called a "stick grenade" or "potato masher".

The Allies press on through a storm of shot and shell, while the Germans try to thwart their efforts.

At close range, grenades are thrown between the two contesting armies.

The allies reach the German lines and open fire before jumping in, capturing the trench!

Driving the Germans out, Allied soldiers race down the zig-zagging earth channels to flush out the enemy.

Clearing the trench of the Germans, the Allies have gained a toehold in the German trench system. Even if they only captured twenty-five yards worth of German trench line and hold it, it is considered a tentative victory.
We hope you enjoyed this post!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Trenches of World War I

In this post, we'll take a look into scenes of trench warfare in World War I.
In 1914, every superpower in Europe went to war after a dispute between Austria and Serbia escalated into a multi-national conflict. The first World War, or "the Great War" as it was known then, would last until 1918. Up until 1914, the great armies of Europe fought battles over open ground, but the invention of rapid-fire rifles and machine guns forced the soldiers of the allied and central powers to dig into the contested European countryside for protection.

A French soldier walks through a trench line in 1914, shortly after the wars outbreak. The French army did not wear camouflage, but instead gray or blue overcoats over sky blue or red pants.
Here, a French Algerian colonial soldier keeps watch over the stretch of no-man's land between the lines.

He is armed with a French machine-gun that would be used throughout the war, though it was known for malfunctioning.

Four years after the wars start, the Americans entered the conflict on the Allied power's side against Germany, Turkey, Austria and Bulgaria. The Trenches were still the main tactic in combat.
Machine gunners guard the approaches facing the enemy trenches.

Daily life in the rain-soaked trenches was very hard. Rats, lice and disease infested the soldier's living conditions,

While constant enemy shelling rained down on the soldiers relentlessly, wrecking havoc on the soldier's nerves, morale and earthen dugouts.

While trenches were dirty, hazardous and at times death traps, they none the less provided basic protection from the storm of lead and steel the enemy rained down on them. But both sides knew they could not stay in their trenches forever; sooner or later, they would have to attack the enemy lines to dislodge them if they want to make any headway in the war. Leaving the relative protection of a trench line and attacking the enemy lines head-on was called "going over the top".
In their trench in Northwest France, German troops prepare for a suspected attack against their lines from the Allied forces of Great Britain, France or their powerful ally, the United States.
More updates to come soon!