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.
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.
An American gunner sights his gun on the Western front. The gun is a 158 mm howitzer equipped with caterpillar like treads for transportation over the rough terrain that existed at the front. Normal wheeled artillery would get bogged down in the mud and the bomb craters.
Here is a nice picture of a group of soldiers serving in the Austro Hungarian Army during World War 1, followed by closeups of the men in the picture to show greater detail of their weapons and uniforms.
The man in the center, probably an officer, is wearing a medal on his uniform. He has a handgun tucked into his belt as well as two knives, one in his stockings and the other on his belt. In this type of warfare, you didn’t want to be caught without a weapon.
Closeup of the Soldiers on the Right of the Photo
The two men on the right of the photo have an interesting assortment of tools and weapons attached to their belts. The man on the left also has a medal.
The second man on the left has two hand grenades attached to his belt as well as several tools.
The man furthest on the left has a couple of tools on his belt including what looks like a wire cutter.
Above is a closeup of the tools and weapons attached to the belts of some of the soldiers. In addition to knives and grenades they both have what appears to be tools used to cut or bend barbed wire. This may have been used to install barbed wire or cut through enemy obstacles. I am not sure what the item shaped a bit like a rolling pin hanging a by a string is for.A closeup of the two Austrian soldiers in the top center of the picture. The man on the right has two medals on his uniform.
Above is a photo of a Romanian Maxim machine gun on a horse drawn carriage, during the early part of World War 1. Machine Guns of this type were not much different from the maxim guns that had been first introduced in 1884 and therefore represented military technology that was nearly 30 years old. . Although they could lay down a relatively heavy fire (about 500 rounds per minute), they were large and cumbersome and needed to be dragged by horses. Also their size made it difficult if not impossible to use the terrain to protect the firing crew so that they were mostly used in open fields where they were effective against exposed infantry, but also were very vulnerable to enemy counter fire.
When Hiram Maxim invented his machine gun in the 1800s, its usefulness was immediately recognized by the United States and the European powers, who rushed to add it to their arsenals. However by the start of World War 1, the maxim gun was yesterday’s technology and both sides had invented much better tools for killing.
Nevertheless the maxim gun was still a common sight on the battlefields of Europe.
Both sides including France and Germany had a number of these fairly obsolete machine guns in their arsenals at the start of the war, the major powers quickly equipped their soldiers with lighter and more mobile machine guns, which not only had a higher rate of fire but also a lower silhouette so that the machine gun crew stood a better chance of survival and could move their gun into a new position themselves rather than having to hitch it to a horse.
Despite the eventual obsolescence of the maxim gun, it continued to see service on the fringes of empire, in the colonies, and during the Russian Revolution, as well as in the proxy wars in China and elsewhere, well into the 20th century.
A famous propaganda poster from the Russian Revolution credits Lenin with heroically manning a maxim machine gun mounted on on a horse drawn cart, firing while being pursued by counter revolutionary White Russian forces.