Trenches did a great job of protecting the troops while they were in them. But neither side was content to simply let their soldiers hunker down indefinitely and simply wait for the other side to attack. The Germans and the Allies all launched attacks against the enemy trenches in an effort to break through the enemy lines and resume a war of movement and deep penetration into the enemy’s territory. In practice, however, most attacks failed to make any significant break throughs or gain territory; the attackers were mowed down by entrenched machine guns, and entangled on barbed wire.
The photo above poignantly illustrated the murderous nature of trench warfare. In this photo you can see a German trench which has been cleared of its German defenders but at such great cost to the attacking French soldiers, that the trench has become a mass grave for the French. The corpse filled ditch has been filled in and covered over to serve as a mass grave, and a stark reminder of the bloody futility of the war on the western front.
Photo of an Italian bomber aircraft.
This is a photograph of an Italian Caproni Heavy bomber during World War 1. The Caproni aircraft corporation was founded in 1911 and produced the first airplane of Italian design and manufacture. During the war it designed and built a number of successful daylight bombers, of which this photo is an example.
The aircraft features an open cockpit (which would have limited the operation efficacy of the aircraft during bad weather and limited it to relatively low altitudes), two motors and heavy double wheels to support the weight of large (by the standards of the day) bomb payloads.
I am not sure which variant of the Caproni bomber this is, but it is likely the Caproni CA 1 developed in 1914. The Ca.1 entered service with the Italian Army in the middle of 1915 and first saw action on August 20, 1915, attacking the Austrian air base at Aisovizza. A total of 162 of these planes were built.
Colonial Troops Deploying to the Front
1914: the war has just begun and these men do not yet realize the horrors that await them at the front. Here a British soldier and two colonial Indian troops pose on a train headed to the front lines.
At the start of the war, Germany, Britain and France all had large overseas colonial possessions. But the German overseas colonies were not as well developed or integrated into the German empire as those of Britain and France. In addition, French and British control of the seas made it impossible for the Germans to defend their possessions in Africa and the Pacific so that these colonies never contributed to the German war effort in a meaningful way.
On the other hand, the French and British were able to draw on vast manpower reserves from their colonies and dominions. The British especially benefited from the contributions made by their Indian troops who were well disciplined and trained.
A wounded German prisoner of war is led to a field hospital by a British orderly. The date and location of this photo are not known, but it would have been taken somewhere on the Western Front.
I think that this photograph really drives home the reality of trench warfare during World War 1. The German soldier is dressed in tattered, muddy clothes. His face is bloodied and bruised; his eyes are swollen to the point of being shut. His left arm is not in his sleeve; perhaps it is in a sling under his coat – hopefully he has not lost it.
But as much as this German soldier is in bad shape, he is one of the lucky ones. For him the war is over.