This is a color photograph of a French soldiers crew manning a 1907 St. Etienne machine gun. The St. Etienne machine gun was a light infantry weapon used widely by the French army during world war 1. It was manufactured from 1908 to 1917, and over 36,000 were produced. The gun derives it name from the fact that it was designed at the French national arsenal at Saint Etienne.
It featured a variable rate of fire that could be set at between 8 to 600 rounds per minute. The mechanism was gas actuated and compared to a fine clockwork.
Despite, advanced design and engineering, the St Etienne was not a particularly good machine gun. The mud and dirt of the front lines tended to get into the mechanisms and cause frequent jams. As a result, beginning in 1917 this machine gun was removed from the front lines and replaced with the simpler and more reliable Hotchkiss 1914 machine gun. The surviving St. Etiennes were transferred for use in the French colonies, where any opponents tended to lack much firepower of their own, or sold off to Italy and other allied countries.
A German Uboat can be seen surfacing. It’s conning tower and bow are already above the water and it is moving on the surface. Possessing a much weaker surface navy than the British, the Germans made extensive use of submarines to attack enemy shipping and even surface warships.
This photograph of a French sergeant and his dog during world war 1 looks some steampunk, post apocalyptic hell. In fact, this duo formed part of a team of medics whose job was to locate wounded soldiers on the battlefield and bring them back to a field hospital. They also collected the dead. where possible, for burial.
The dog’s keen nose was used to find survivors as well as deceased soldiers who might be hidden under rubble or in the mud. You can see a stretcher party in the far left background removing a casualty.
Below is a closeup of the stretcher party:
And here is a closeup magnifying the dog handler’s gas mask. When you see it up close, it is remarkable how primitive his protective gear is.
Below is a picture of the dog’s gas mask. You have to wonder how effective this protection was for the poor dog. Even if the mask managed to keep out the gas, it would surely leave toxins on his fur which he would later lick. I am also surprised that the dog could still do his job of detecting fallen soldiers, because I would have thought that the mask would block off his sense of smell, but apparently even poison gas and filters could not keep this brave dog from doing his duty.
Serbian Soldiers on Guard Duty
The assassination of the Austrian Grand Duke by a Serbian nationalist and Austria-Hungary’s efforts to punish Serbia, led to World War 1. Serbian soldiers were poorly equipped, and out numbered by the forces of the Austrian Empire, but they put up a tenacious defence of their territory. In the end, however, the Serbs were overwhelmed and the remnants of their shattered armies retreated into Albania and Greece. Some where evacuated by sea to Italy, in an operation reminiscent of Dunkirk during WW2.
In this photograph, a group of three Serbian soldiers stand guard over a snowy landscape, somewhere in Serbia during the winter of 1914/1915. The land looks very cold and harsh.
The two men on the ground are carrying rifles with bayonets, and they each have a large backpack with their kit and supplies. It is not clear what the Serbian soldier in the tree is holding. None of the three men is wearing white camouflage clothing and their dark winter coats make them stand out dangerously against the white of the snow.
Pope Benedict XV famously referred to as World War 1 as the “suicide of Europe”.
Pope Benedict XV was elected Pope only a few weeks after the start of the conflict. It was Sepetember 1914, and the war had been raging only since the end of July. In those heady days, when it was still a war of movement and counter moves, before the front stagnated into the horrors of trench warfare, the world still believed that this would be a short war. Most politicians and generals stated that the troops before Christmas. Few paid any attention to the pacifist warnings of the Pope.
The allies disdainfully rejected his efforts at peace mediation. The Italian government and pro-war press dismissed the Italian born Pope as unpatriotic. No one saw the disaster that was coming.
But Benedict was right. His reign began with the start of World War 1, and he lived long enough to see that the war was in fact the suicide of Europe. Nothing would ever be the same again. For good, and mostly for bad, the old order had been broken beyond repair.
The picture above shows allied soldiers making their way through an apocalyptic wasteland following a battle.