Allied Tanks Heading to the Front

Tanks on A TrainAllied tanks are being transported by rail to the Western front while some curious French women look on,  August, 1918. Trains were used to transport tanks to forward staging areas in order to avoid wear on the machines and their treads which were prone to break down. The tanks would then move under their own power from where they were deposited by the train to a staging area behind the trench lines, until it was time to attack.

The Latest Aircraft Detection Technology

sound system for detecting airplanesGénéral Araki, the Japanese Minister of War, inspects a new device for tracking aircraft by sound. The machine acted as a giant sound collector, amplifying the noise of aircraft engines and giving troops on the ground a chance to organize anti aircraft fire.

The trumpet shaped devices served to funnel the sound into an amplifier. The operator would scan the sky with the microphones trying to pick up the sound of approaching enemy aircraft.

Devices such as this represented early attempts to detect enemy aircraft before they came into visual range and were the best technology available until the development of radar. Similar devices, housed in large towers, were developed by the British after the war as a form of early warning system.

It is a testament to the speed with which warfare drives scientific and technical progress, that when the war started in 1914, airplanes were essentially a novelty. They were not armed, being used solely for reconnaissance. Soon both sides began using planes to drop bomb payloads. As these bombers became more effective, both sides developed newer and faster planes to act as interceptors. This was countered by improved bombers, and so on. As airplanes became more effective, so did anti aircraft defences.  At first gunners relied on their eyesight but soon the war produced these early electronic detection and tracking devices, and, not long afterwards, radar.

American Tank in Combat During World War 1

American TankIn this picture a very muddy American tank plows through a German trench during World War I, near Saint Michel, France. The tanks of World War 1 were basically armoured tractors with fairly light armour and armaments. But they were the key to breaking the stalemate on the Western Front because they could ram through barbed wire entanglements, and act as a the sharp wedge breaking open the enemy lines and allowing the infantry to follow and occupy the ground.

 

Tank Tracks

Closeup of Mud Encrusted Tank Threads

 

Romania in World War 1

Romanian Cavalry ChargeRomania was a brief participant in World War 1. Although the country is situated in the volatile Balkans, and next door to Serbia, where the war originated, Romania initially stayed out of the conflict. It would have been better off if it had stayed out all together.

Romania entered the war in August 1916 on the side of the Allies, with the goal of seizing the province of Transylvania from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Transylvania had a large  ethnically Romanian population but was part of the Austrian Empire, that hodgepodge of nationalities and simmering ethnic rivalries.

Romanian Infantry Fighting in World War 1

Romanian Infantry Fighting in World War 1

 

However, Romania was at best a minor power and its poorly equipped and badly led armies fared terribly against the Central Powers. It suffered severe defeats at the hands of the Germans and Austrians, and was forced back onto its own territory. Despite having numerically inferior forces, the better led Germans and Austrians out maneuvered and out fought the Romanians.

By 1917 most of the country had been occupied by the Central Powers, including Bulgaria,  and what was left of the Romanian armed forces and government hung on to Moldovia, bolstered by Russian troops. There, the front stabilized and the Romanians, with French and British support, worked to retrain and re-arm a new army with the goal of taking back their country. However when Russia collapsed and left the war in the aftermath of the Russian revolution, Romania sued for peace and signed and signed a treaty with Austria and Germany in December 1917.

Romanian Troops WW1Romania remained out of the war until the day before the German armistice in 1918, when Romania committed a dishonourable breach of that peace and declared war on Germany again, in order to gain a place at the peace conference and exact terms from the Germans.

Following the war, Romania did gain its prize of Transylvania which was annexed to Romania. But as the region also had a large Hungarian population, which resented the annexation,  this led to conflict with the new Soviet Republic of Hungary. A new war in 1919 resulted in the partial occupation of Hungary by Romania and exemplified the fact that the so called War to End All Wars was only the forerunner of even greater conflicts to come.