Category Archives: 1917

Ottoman Machine Gun Unit

Ottoman Machine Gunners in Gaza

Ottoman Machine Gunners in Gaza, 1917


Ottoman troops take up positions against the advancing British and their Arab allies in Gaza, 1917. Despite insurmountable short comings in logistics, supply and weaponry, the Ottoman Empire put up a good fight against the allied powers, even scoring some impressive victories.

Pictured below is a closeup of the machine gun crew. Note the heavy belt fed machine gun, which would have been extremely difficult to transport especially in the heat and terrain of the Middle East.

machine gun

Close up pf the machine gun

The Ottomans were able to hold the front in Sinai and Palestine until near the end of the war, when their resistance collapsed and the British entered Jerusalem.

Christmas Presents for the Troops

World War 1 Christmas

A Pile of Donated Christmas Presents Destined for US Troops

This photo from 1917 shows a “Christmas Box Hospital” where boxes containing gifts for U.S. troops donated by the general public were repaired before being shipped to the front line troops.  Here we see a pile of boxes containing Christmas gifts awaiting inspection and repair. Statistics from the United States Committee on Public Information indicates that about 11,000 boxes arrived in poor condition and needed to be repaired.

Collection drives for necessities and luxury items for the soldiers were important propaganda tools, helping to maintain the morale of the troops and also create a sense of solidarity between the soldiers and civilians on the homefront.

German Propaganda Poster

German Propganda PosterA 1917 German propaganda poster depicting Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg. Below is a quote from Hindenberg in which he assures the German people that the Rhine river will never be crossed by the enemy as long as the Army and the Navy work together. The title of the poster reads: On His 70th birthday.

In fact, the Rhine was not crossed by the Allies during World War 1 until after the German surrender. Despite its defeat, all fighting took place outside the national territory of Germany. However by the time of the German armistice Germany’s ability to carry on the war effort was at an end, and collapse was imminent. The Allies were preparing for a final, deep penetration into the heart of Germany and the German armed forces could offer little resistance. However the fact that Germany surrendered while its armies were still on French soil led to the myth, later exploited by Hitler, that Germany had been betrayed and could have fought on.


War and its Waste

We often talk of war and its waste. And it is certainly true that war is wasteful of human lives and is wasteful in terms of money and resources which could have been spent on improving society. But what we do not often talk about is the literal waste generated by war: the tons of metal scraps, fragments, and garbage left behind after the armies have passed through.

Empty Shell Casings

Piles of Used Artillery Shell Casings

In this photograph we can see piles of empty shell casings, littering the side of a road in France. These represent the thousands of artillery shells that were fired by the allies against the Germans during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, in 1917.

Interestingly, modern warfare not only created piles of scrap and garbage such as seen pictured here, but also provoked the first efforts at recycling. On the home front, drives were organized to collect scrap metal and even convince housewives to part with pots and pans to convert into bullets and other implements of war. And on the battlefield, spent artillery shell casings such as these would eventually be collected and then melted down to make more artillery shells. The circle of death was nearly complete.