Ottoman Gun Crew
This photograph (taken circa 1914) shows an Ottoman gun crew loading a cannon, somewhere on the Caucasus front with Russia. The artillery piece is fairly small, probably a mountain gun, designed for transport over rough terrain.
The Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of Germany and Austria and soon learned that it was a colossally stupid decision. Despite lacking lacking heavy industry and being without a modern transportation network, and ruling over a number of rebellious and discontented ethnic groups, the dying Ottoman Empire voluntarily went to war with all of the Super Powers of the day and was fighting on multiple fronts, a task which would have sapped the strength of even a major power.
Ottoman troops were fighting in Egypt (later pushed back into Palestine), in Gallipoli, against Romania and Greece, against Britain in Iraq, and against the Russian Empire in the Caucasus. Despite the heavy odds against it, the Ottomans actually took the offensive in many areas, including the Caucasus region. However even the otherwise hapless Imperial Russian Army was able to push back the Ottomans and to hold them at bay even until the Russian collapse following the Communist Revolution.
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.
British Gun Crew
Photo of a British gun crew struggling to get their artillery piece out of the mud during the Battle of the Somme, 1914. Notice the man on the far right busy doing nothing while the rest of the men push and pull the artillery.
A New Zealand artillery company passes through the newly liberated village of Bertincourt, in northern France on September 8, 1918 (exactly 97 years ago today).
The artillery piece is a BL 60 pounder gun, whose main role was counter battery fire, meaning that it was tasked with suppressing and destroying enemy artillery batteries.
The gun is being drawn by a large team of horses because it is so heavy. Some support troops are walking with the rest of the column. On the right there is a damaged building with the name of the town, testifying to the recent fighting.
Below are some magnifications and closeups of the picture, giving better detail of the cannon as well as the team of horses pulling it. Credit for the original picture goes to Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013580-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22901789
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.
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.