Category Archives: Western Front
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.
World War 1 American Tank
The crew of an American World War 1 tank poses next to their machine somewhere in France. It’s interesting to see how big the tank was, which meant that it had a very high silhouette and center of gravity. These design flaws meant that the tank would be unstable and liable to tip over, and also meant that it would make an easier target for enemy gunners. Modern tanks, and even tanks from world war 2 adopted a low profile whihc made them more stable and harder to hit. It also allowed them to use the terrain for cover. This lumbering beast, on the other hand would have been visible from a great distance.
The configuration of the tank’s armament is also unconventional and represents an evolutionary dead end. Unlike modern tanks, this one has its guns mounted on side turrets which cannot be rotated 360 degrees, limiting its offensive capabilities.
In addition to the officers and men standing next to the tank, closeups of the picture reveal other men inside the tank peering out from port holes and hatches.
The picture shows a sea of German soldiers, all prisoners of war, standing behind a barbed wire fence. The fence is a rudimentary one, just a few wires strung along some rough posts. There are a couple of signs, their wording illegible but probably some warning against crossing the fence, nailed to one of the fence posts.
There are so many prisoners of war that the men have no room to move or lie down. There is no visible shelter, just a mass of thousands and thousands of POWs. Judging from their overcoats it is likely that the picture was taken in the Fall and there seems to be a chill in the air.
The conditions must have been very difficult. There is no designated place to go to the bathroom. Hygiene must have been horrendous. Line ups for food must have been very long.
Despite these hardships, the men in this picture were comparatively lucky. For them the war was over, and if they survived cholera and other diseases prevalent in POW camps, they would soon be repatriated with their families.
Here is a close up of some of the men, unidentified persons amidst the masses of nameless and indistinct faces.
A 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.