Photograph shows Austrian soldiers on a dusty road on the Eastern Front. Some are on horseback while others are on foot, leading pack horses loaded with equipment and supplies. The troops in this picture are members of an Austro-Hungarian telephone communications division. It was their job to lay down and maintain a field telephone system to allow the commanding officers to communicate with forward troops and receive updated information about the situation.
World War 1 was interesting for its unusual blend of old and new technologies. It was a war in which horses and cavalry men fought along side tanks and aircraft. In the field of communications, as well, the armies of the main combatants made use of what was then cutting edge technology such as telephones but they also relied on antiquated communication systems such as homing pigeons.
United States infantry belonging to a segregated African American unit of the American army, marching on a road near Verdun. Note the camouflage netting overhead to protect the soldiers from airplanes and artillery fire. The photo was taken northwest of the Verdun fortress in 1918.
On April 2, 1916, two German Zeppelin bombers were spotted making their way along the British coast.
They were part of a campaign of air raids targeting British installations, including dockyards, as well as civilian targets. The big, lumbering airships carried a big payload of bombs and while both sides had airships, none were as feared or as efficient as the German Zeppelins.
It was night time and the sky and the land were both dark. All the lights in town had been turned off to avoid giving the German bombers a way of getting their bearings, but the lights of a nearby railway station were still burning, which may have acted as a beacon for the airships. One could hear the engines of the big zeppelins but they were invisible amid the darkened sky.
The people of the town of Togston could see flashes in the distance, and the rumble of exploding bombs, as the zepellins dropped their bombs on nearby towns. Then it was their turn.
The machines passed over main street and dropped their loads before turning out to sea and returning to their bases across the channel. This time the people of Togston were lucky: the bombs did some damage, breaking windows and knocking down some ceilins but the bombs missed whatever the zeppelin bombardiers were aiming for. One bomb landed in parcel of open land, leaving a large crater, which became the center of excitement in this small town.
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.
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.