World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or “the war to end all wars”, it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history, and also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated 8.5 million combatant deaths and 13 million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war. Resulting genocides and the related 1918 Spanish flu pandemic caused many millions of deaths worldwide.
On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist and member of the Serbian Black Hand military society, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia on 23 July. Serbia’s reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, and the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe. By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente, consisting of France, Russia, and Britain; and the preestablished Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. The Triple Alliance was only defensive in nature, allowing Italy to stay out of the war until 26 April 1915, when it joined the Allied Powers after its relations with Austria-Hungary deteriorated. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia, and approved partial mobilisation after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade, which was a few kilometres from the border, on 28 July 1914. Full Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; the following day, Austria-Hungary and Germany did the same, while Germany demanded Russia demobilise within twelve hours. When Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on Russia on 1 August 1914 in support of Austria-Hungary, the latter following suit on 6 August 1914. France ordered full mobilisation in support of Russia on 2 August 1914. In the end, World War I would see the continent of Europe split into two major opposing alliances; the Allied Powers, primarily composed of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the United States, France, the Russian Empire, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro; and the Central Powers, primarily composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.
Germany’s strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to rapidly concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within 6 weeks, then shift forces to the East before Russia could fully mobilise; this was later known as the Schlieffen Plan. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France. When this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day; the Belgian government invoked the 1839 Treaty of London and, in compliance with its obligations under this treaty, Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August. On 12 August, Britain and France also declared war on Austria-Hungary; on 23 August, Japan sided with Britain, seizing German possessions in China and the Pacific. In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of Austria-Hungary and Germany, opening fronts in the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in (and drew upon) each power’s colonial empire also, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe.
The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a war of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917 (the Eastern Front, by contrast, was marked by much greater exchanges of territory). In 1915, Italy joined the Allied Powers and opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans. The United States initially remained neutral, though even while neutral it became an important supplier of war materiel to the Allies. Eventually, after the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the declaration by Germany that its navy would resume unrestricted attacks on neutral shipping, and the revelation that Germany was trying to incite Mexico to initiate war against the United States, the U.S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces did not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but the American Expeditionary Force ultimately reached some two million troops.
Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, and Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916, only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918. The 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Monarchy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent with the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, and the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia’s involvement in the war. Germany now controlled much of eastern Europe and transferred large numbers of combat troops to the Western Front. Using new tactics, the German March 1918 Offensive was initially successful. The Allies fell back and held. The last of the German reserves were exhausted as 10,000 fresh American troops arrived every day. The Allies drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive, a continual series of attacks to which the Germans had no countermove. One by one, the Central Powers quit: first Bulgaria (September 29), then the Ottoman Empire (October 31) and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (November 3). With its allies defeated, revolution at home, and the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918, ending the war.
World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural, economic, and social climate of the world. The war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous revolutions and uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, France, the United States, and Italy) imposed their terms on the defeated powers in a series of treaties agreed at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the most well known being the Treaty of Versailles with Germany. Ultimately, as a result of the war, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian Empires ceased to exist, and numerous new states were created from their remains. However, despite the conclusive Allied victory (and the creation of the League of Nations during the peace conference, intended to prevent future wars), a second world war followed just over twenty years later. (Wikipedia)
Battle of Guillemont (Somme). British gunners watching German prisoners, wounded and visibly distressed, passing after the taking of Guillemont. Battle of Guillemont (Somme) September 3rd 1916.
A German soldier from Landsturm-Infanterie-Ersatz-Bataillon Wetzlar (XVIII.28). WWI The Landsturm (Home guard militia) was initially created as an additional source of manpower during periods of war by a decree of the King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm III on April 21, 1813. It was formed from all men (initially aged 15 to 60) liable for military service who were not already serving in either the standing Army or the Landwehr. The Landsturm was only called during times of war and thus its members were equipped with whatever was left in the Army’s stores, often war material older than the soldiers themselves. The middle-age man in this photo was clearly not an exception and he displays a very interesting, and international, mix of old and new gear: Where captured equipment is concerned, we have two items, first a French ammo pouch of the model issued with the Lebel rifle, and second an Italian bayonet which, although only partially visible, has been identified as an M1870 issued for the Vetterli M1870 rifle. In his right hand he holds an example of the venerable Mauser Model 1871 rifle, better known as a Gew71 for shorts. On his head, the typical Landsturm/Landwehr headgear: a black oilcloth cap Model 1913 (Wachstuchmütze) adorned with a Landwehr cross. Somewhat rare is the presence of a second ‘kokarde’ above the cross.
Unteroffizier Hussar of the 3rd Royal Saxon Hussar Regiment No. 20. WW1
On June 28, 1914, The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (above), heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, occurred in Sarajevo when they were mortally wounded by Gavrilo Princip. The assassination led directly to the First World War when Austria-Hungary subsequently issued an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, which was partially rejected. Austria-Hungary then declared war, triggering actions leading to war between most European states.
12th Battalion of the Royal Scots out on patrol near Méteren. 23 June 1918.
American troops visiting ‘A’ Company Headquarters, of the 37th Battalion, Picardie, Somme, 21 June 1918. About this time small detachments of Americans were attached to various Australian units for instructional purposes. Several Australian figures are identified in the original photograph, including Lieutenant (Lt) Norman Gordon McNicol MC, Captain J. A. Carrodus, Officer Commanding, Lt H. Beer, Corporal (Cpl) Waterson, Lance Corporal Le Maitre, Cpl R. Jones, Cpl Maxwell, Private (Pte) Huntly, Pte Rogers, Pte Baldiston, Sergeant Allen, Pte Burrows, Company Sergeant Major Rosing, and Cpl Scott.
This photo of an unknown Royal Engineer, was taken by an amateur photographer, Alfred Dupire at 45, Rue d’Amiens, Warloy-Baillon, in 1916.
Ottoman troops with the Ottoman 1890 Mauser rifle.
New Zealand troops of the 9th (Wellington East Coast Rifles) Regiment being issued with their rum ration at Fleaurbaix, June 1916. The soldier on the extreme left wears sandbags as leggings. Note unorthodox footwear.
5th Battle Squadron; HMS Valiant, Warspite & Malaya about to open fire; taken from HMS Barham. 5th Battle Squadron fought at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916 as part of Admiral Beatty’s Battle Cruiser Fleet.
The Third Battle of the Aisne. French nurse attending British wounded at Maizy, 27 May 1918 during the Third Battle of the Aisne. THE GERMAN SPRING OFFENSIVE, MARCH-JULY 1918 On the morning of 27 May 1918, the Germans began a bombardment (Feuerwalze) of the Allied front lines with over 4,000 artillery pieces. The British suffered heavy losses, because Duchene was reluctant to abandon the Chemin des Dames Ridge, after it had been captured at such cost the previous year, had ordered them to mass together in the front trenches, in defiance of instructions from the French Commander-in-Chief Henri-Philippe Petain. Huddled together, they made easy artillery targets. The bombardment was followed by a poison gas drop. Once the gas had lifted the main infantry assault by 17 German Sturmtruppen divisions commenced, part of an Army Group nominally commanded by Crown Prince Wilhelm, the eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser came to inspect the progress of the battle and captured British Brigadier-General Hubert Rees (GOC 150th Brigade, part of 50th Division) was interviewed by him – the Kaiser was amused to learn that he was Welsh, the same nationality as Lloyd George. Taken completely by surprise and with their defences spread thin, the Allies were unable to stop the attack and the German army advanced through a 40 kilometres (25 mi) gap in the Allied lines. Reaching the Aisne in under six hours, the Germans smashed through eight Allied divisions on a line between Reims and Soissons, pushing the Allies back to the river Vesle and gaining an extra 15 km of territory by nightfall. Victory seemed near for the Germans, who had captured just over 50,000 Allied soldiers and well over 800 guns by 30 May 1918. But after having advanced within 56 kilometres (35 mi) of Paris on 3 June, the German armies were beset by numerous problems, including supply shortages, fatigue, lack of reserves and many casualties. On 6 June 1918, following many successful Allied counter-attacks, the German advance halted on the Marne, much as the “Michael” and “Georgette” offensives had in March and April of that year.
Support troops from the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade wait behind Quinn’s Post, Gallipoli, after it was retaken on 29 May 1915. Quinn’s Post, named after Major Hugh Quinn, 15th Battalion (Queensland) AIF, was one of the most dangerous places at Anzac. ‘Men passing the fork in Monash Valley’, wrote Charles Bean, ‘used to glance at the place (as one of them said) as a man looks at a haunted house’. Quinn’s was positioned on the northern edge of the front line along Second Ridge, and beyond was Deadman’s Ridge, from which the enemy could fire into the side of the post. Other Turkish trenches lay opposite, and the Turks had only to advance a few metres, capture Quinn’s, and the whole Anzac area could be lost. At 3.30 am on 29 May 1915 an enemy mine exploded under a section of Quinn’s and the Turks rushed into the post. Desperate fighting took place in the dark trenches but a determined Australian assault broke through and captured 17 prisoners. Among the 33 Australians who died that morning were 11 men of the 13th Battalion who were smothered in the initial Turkish explosion.
Landsturm infantrymen pose beside a Hotchkiss revolving-cannon in Lille (Théâtre du Nord). WW1. The Saint-Nicolas market in Lille. Reserved for butchers and tripe until the end of the war. During the Great War it became the seat of the German occupation government. then this hall will be used for various events. In 1989, it was the subject of major development and now contains a theater.
HMS ‘Tiger’, which fought with ‘Queen Mary’ in the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron, during her trials in October 1914.
Men of the 2nd Australian Division (possibly 26th Batt./7th Brigade) in a front line trench at Croix du Bac, near Armentieres, May 1916. The 26th Battalion was raised at Enoggera, Queensland, in April 1915 from recruits enlisted in Queensland and Tasmania, and formed part of the 7th Brigade. It left Australia in July, and, after training in Egypt, landed at Gallipoli on 12 September. At Gallipoli, the 26th played a purely defensive role and at various times was responsible for the defence of Courtney’s and Steele’s Posts, and Russell’s Top. It withdrew from the peninsula on 12 December. After another stint in Egypt, the 7th Brigade proceeded to France as part of the 2nd Australian Division in March 1916 In concert with the 28th Battalion, the 26th mounted the first trench raid undertaken by Australian troops on the Western Front on 6 June. The Battalion fought in its first major battle around Pozieres between 28 July and 7 August. After a short spell in Belgium, the 2nd Division came south in October to attack again in the Somme Valley. The 26th Battalion took part in two attacks to the east of Flers, both of which floundered in mud and slush. In early 1917, the 26th Battalion joined the follow-up of the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line and attacked at Warlencourt (1-2 March) and Lagincourt (26 March). For his valorous actions at Lagincourt, Captain Percy Cherry was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. On 3 May, the Battalion was also involved in the second attempt to breach the Hindenburg Line defences around Bullecourt. Later that year the focus of the AIF’s operations switched to Belgium. There, the 26th battalion fought in the battle of Menin Road on 20 September, and participated in the capture of Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October. Like most AIF battalions, the 26th fought to turn back the German spring offensive in April 1918, and in the lull that followed mounted “peaceful penetration” operations to snatch portions of the German front line. In one such operation in Monument Wood on 14 July the 26th Battalion captured the first German tank to fall into Allied hands – No. 506 “Mephisto”. In another, on 17 July, Lieutenant Albert Borrella was awarded the Victoria Cross. Later in the year the 26th participated in the great offensive that began on 8 August, its most notable engagement being an attack east of Mont St Quentin on 2 September. The Battalion’s last action of the war was the capture of Lormisset, part of the operation to breach the Beaurevoir Line, on 3 October 1918. The 26th Battalion was disbanded in May 1919.
British troops moving an 8-inch Mk V howitzer into position, Bécordel-Bécourt, in the Somme department in Hauts-de-France. 26 May 1917. (Bécordel-Bécourt is a village about 2.5 kilometres south-east of Albert.) Dartmoor Cemetery was begun (as Becordel-Becourt Military Cemetery) in August 1915 and was used by the battalions holding that part of the line; its name was changed in May 1916 at the request of the 8th and 9th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment. In September 1916, the XV Corps Main Dressing Station was established in the neighbourhood, but throughout 1917, the cemetery was scarcely used. It passed into German hands on 26 March 1918, but was retaken on 24 August by the 12th Division.
Vickers F.B.26 A Vampire single-seat pusher biplane fighter. 230 h.p. Bentley B.R.2 engine. Serial number 148. (Possibly B1486, which was built and operated first by No. 39 Squadron at Woodford and then passed to No. 141 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps in February 1918.) Four were built by Vickers at Bexleyheath, one of these was subsequently modified to become the F.B.26A. “Curiously retrogressive in design when built in May 1917, the pusher fighter with boom-carried empennage being decidedly passé at that stage in World War I, the F.B.26 single-seat fighter had its nacelle attached directly to the upper wing. The original concept provided for a single 7.7mm Lewis gun, but an additional Lewis had been introduced by the time that the F.B.26 reached Martlesham Heath for official testing in July 1917. Power was provided by a 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine, but inadequate cooling led to the original single flat radiator being replaced by two separate radiator blocks. On 25 August 1917, the prototype was spun into the ground by Vickers’ test pilot Harold Barnwell. Nonetheless, a month later, on 19 September, a contract was placed for six examples of a modified version of the F.B.26. The wing structure was completely revised, radiator blocks were attached to the nacelle sides and a larger vertical tail was introduced. Interest in the F.B.26 centered on its potential as a Home Defense fighter, and it was proposed that armament would consist of two Lewis guns coupled with an Aldis sight and capable of several degrees of elevation and depression. However, in order to obtain greater firepower, the nacelle of the F.B.26 was modified to permit installation of an Eeman three-gun universal mounting. The first two F.B.26s had the trio of Lewis guns fixed to fire horizontally, but it was intended that the next four aircraft would have a modified Eeman mounting capable of 45° of elevation. The first of the modified F.B.26s was flown in December 1917 with a 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine. After testing at Martlesham Heath, this aircraft was assigned to No 141 Sqn in February 1918 for service evaluation. It was concluded that the F.B.26 was unsuited for Home Defense duties and work on the incomplete machines was halted, although the second and third examples had been completed and flown meanwhile. As the basic design was considered to possess potential in the close air support role, the second of the modified F.B.26s was fitted with a redesigned nacelle incorporating amour protection for the pilot and a 230 hp Bentley B.R.2 nine-cylinder rotary. This armored “trench-strafer” was assigned the designation F.B.26A, and, under the official nomenclature scheme introduced in the spring of 1918, became the Vampire II, the F.B.26 being the Vampire I. In the event, the Vampire II had still to be completed by the end of June 1918, and thus came too late on the wartime scene.” (Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War I)
An Italian Lieutenant with gasmask and a Carcano mod.91 rifle “Moschetto TS” for special troops.
21 May 1918 Major General Sir Andrew Hamilton Russell at the New Zealand Divisional Headquarters, Bus-les-Artois, France. 21 May 1918 Not as well known these days when compared to other New Zealanders in WWI such as Cyril Bassett VC or Colonel William Malone, Major General Russell nevertheless had far more influence and effect upon New Zealand’s contribution to the war effort than maybe any other individual due to his drive, leadership, tactical nous and organisational ability. Born in 1868 in Napier, New Zealand, Andrew Russell was raised both in New Zealand and England and prior to WWI served in the British Army before returning to New Zealand to carry on the family’s farming while being active in the New Zealand Volunteer Force militia (later known as the Territorial Force). At the outbreak of WWI Russell was offered command of New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade of the NZEF (New Zealand Expeditionary Force) which he accepted along with the promotion to the rank of Brigadier General. After the NZMR was eventually committed to the Gallipoli campaign (to fight as regular infantry as the terrain was unsuitable for horses) it was Russell who delivered two of the few real successes enjoyed by the allied forces in a campaign blighted by failures and setbacks; namely the quick and efficient capture of the key features of the approaches to the Sari Bair range at the beginning of the August 1915 offensives, and then during the successful evacuation of the Anzac beachhead in December of that year. When, in March 1916, the New Zealand Infantry Brigade was expanded to a full Division and sent to the Western Front Russell was given command of the Division and was to stay in that role until the end of the war despite being offered command of a British Corp by Field Marshal Haig (the only Dominion commander to receive such an offer). Like other successful divisional commanders Russell was known for the hard discipline and hard training he imposed on all under his command coupled with the utmost attention paid to their welfare, whether it be their leave, health, food, lodgings or equipment. And unlike some other divisional commanders Russell was no ‘Dugout King’, he spent plenty of time in the front lines. For example, while in the Messines sector on 8 June 1917 a shell burst over his party, killing Brigadier General Brown (commander 1 NZ Brigade) and wounding Russell’s ADC (aide-de-camp). Two days later Russell was hit by a sniper,the round passing right through his helmet and parting his hairline. After the war Russell returned to civilian life although he wasn’t formally retired from the army until 1932. At the outbreak of WW2 he put his uniform back on and served as the Inspector General of New Zealand Military Forces before retiring in July 1941. Russell passed away on 29 November 1960 aged 92.
10,000 heroic war horses died between 1 and 10 April 1918 during Operation Michael, part of the German Spring Offensive. On this date 100 years ago Operation Michael, part of the German Spring Offensive, had ground to a halt. Germany was forced to send thousands of brave horses and mules loaded with supplies into enemy territory and ultimately to their deaths. They were rushed to the front, through shell fire and mud, with supplies to keep the operation going. As supplies ran out many of these loyal animals were sacrificed for their meat, further slowing the advance and giving the Allies the upper hand. Eight million horses, donkeys and mules died in WW1, not only from fierce shellfire and gas attacks but also from the extreme conditions they had to endure. Operation Michael was a major German military offensive during the First World War that began the Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918. It was launched from the Hindenburg Line, in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin, France. Its goal was to break through the Allied (Entente) lines and advance in a north-westerly direction to seize the Channel Ports, which supplied the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and to drive the BEF into the sea. Two days later General Erich Ludendorff, the chief of the German General Staff, adjusted his plan and pushed for an offensive due west, along the whole of the British front north of the River Somme. This was designed to first separate the French and British Armies before continuing with the original concept of pushing the BEF into the sea. The offensive ended at Villers-Bretonneux, to the east of the Allied communications centre at Amiens, where the Allies managed to halt the German advance; the German Army had suffered many casualties and was unable to maintain supplies to the advancing troops. Much of the ground fought over was the wilderness left by the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The action was therefore officially named by the British Battles Nomenclature Committee as The First Battles of the Somme, 1918, whilst the French call it the Second Battle of Picardy. The failure of the offensive marked the beginning of the end of the First World War for Germany. The arrival in France of large reinforcements from the United States replaced Entente casualties but the German Army was unable to recover from its losses before these reinforcements took the field. Operation Michael failed to achieve its objectives and the German advance was reversed during the Second Battle of the Somme, 1918 (21 August – 3 September) in the Allied Hundred Days Offensive.
Life in a trench at the Karst platea on the Isonzo Front. A guard observes beyond the loophole with a Vetterli rifle, another infantryman lights his pipe, one slumbers, another tries to write a letter with a pencil. ca. 1916 The Battles of the Isonzo, were a series of 12 battles between the Austro-Hungarian and Italian armies, mostly on the territory of present-day Slovenia, and the remainder in Italy along the Isonzo River on the eastern sector of the Italian Front between June 1915 and November 1917.
19 May 1918 A dog handler of the Royal Engineers (Signals) reading the message that has just been brought to him by his messenger dog. The dog swam across the canal to deliver the message and still looks quite wet. The photograph was taken at a Army Veterinary Corps HQ Kennel near Nieppe Wood. 19 May 1918
The Battle of the Lys. Gunners of the Royal Field Artillery getting an 18 pounder gun into action alongside a ruined cottage. Near Saint-Floris, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. 2 May 1918. 18-pounders were used effectively in the spring of 1918 against attacking German troops during their Spring Offensive. However, the effectiveness of the German fire plan on 21st March caused many casualties amongst the gunners, and in too many case batteries were unable to withdraw before being overrun. Nevertheless on the 4th of April the Germans made their final attempt to break the British line having advanced to the area of Villers Bretonneux held by the 14th and 18th Divisions, reinforced by the 16th and 39th divisional artilleries although batteries were understrength through losses. By mid-morning observers were engaging massed German infantry but these pressed forward and reached just east of Hamel. Brigadier-General Edward Harding-Newman, CRA of the 14th Division issued the following order “This attack must and can be stopped by artillery fire. If any battery can no longer effectively stop the enemy from its present position, it will at once move forward to a position on the crest, to engage the enemy over open sights. It is essential that the artillery hold the line and they will do so.” Fire from several RFA brigades mostly with 18-pounder batteries stopped the German advance, including some from the 16th Division that deployed forward to the crest and observers from 177 Brigade RFA using Hamel church tower. This action effectively ended the German advance.
16 May 1919, Invalides – Court of Honour, The military medal is awarded to the 1st Senegalese Tirailleurs Regiment (1er RTS). In 1913, the Minister of War, Eugène Etienne, declared : “In recognition of the merits of these glorious and valiant troops, I have the honor to propose that you confer the insignia of the Legion of Honor to the flag of the 1st Regiment of Tirailleurs, their most ancient regiment. ” ((the Legion of Honour is the highest French order for military and civil merits) During WW1, “The Senegalese troops participated in a particularly brilliant manner in the operations of the Great War. In addition to the Senegalese who served under French flags on 2 August 1914, less than one hundred and eighty thousand indigenous soldiers were recruited from West Africa in 1914-1918, of whom about one hundred and thirty-five thousand were transported to the metropolis.” (Major General Bonnier, Superior Commander of the Troops of the French West Africa). One of their most famous act of bravoury is when they recaptured the “Fort Douaumont” in Verdun from the Germans on 24th of October 1916. Therefore, after WW1, the 1er RTS has been awarded the “Croix de Guerre with four palms” (4 times mentioned in dispatches at the army level) and the “Fourragère” in the colours of the Military Medal too, (The Military Medal is the highest strictly military French decoration.) The flag of the 1st Senegalese Tirailleurs Regiment is now kept in Dakar, and in 2006, Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal, financed a replica of the flag destined to join the 21st Regiment of Marine Infantry in Fréjus, guardian of the traditions of the colonial troops. They both witness the sacrifices made by the tirailleurs, non-commissioned officers and officers, both African and French, brothers in arms, who served in the French army for more than a century
“Gode Kammerater” (Good Comrades) Danes in the German Army 1914-18 (1896 7.7cm Krupp Field Gun) In the First World War, around 26,000 Danish-speaking German citizens from Northern Schleswig fought in the German army, because of Denmark’s defeat and the annexation of Schleswig-Holstein by Prussia in the Second War of Schleswig in 1864. As a result, a large group of Danes became German citizens, and were thus obliged to do military service in the German army.
The German Spring Offensive, March-July 1918. The Third Battle of the Aisne. French and British troops marching back together through Passy-sur-Marne, Aisne, France. 29 May 1918.
5 soldiers of the Transport Section, 259th Battalion en route to Siberia – Vancouver, B.C. Dec 1918
Canadian wounded enjoying a cup of tea at Advanced Dressing Station during the advance East of Arras. October 1918.
Munitionnettes – February 1916 Production of the so-called “Crapouillots” the 20 kg Medium A.L.S bombs for the 58mm French trench mortar. In all countries at war, women participate in the war effort and perform tasks often performed by men until then. In 1918, the French arms industry had 1.7 million workers, compared with 50,000 before the war. Among them, 430,000 women. Forges of Chaléassière (Saint-Etienne). Adaptation of the cap by three stitches. At the forges de la Chaleassiere, in Saint-Etienne, a worker welded with torch the body of a trench mortar torpedo 58 T.
A sentry uses a box periscope in a trench on the 36th Division front, near Essigny, 7 February 1918. 108th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division
65 Mountain Battery, French soldiers surrounding a cannon – 1915.
15 May 1918 Gunners of the Royal Field Artillery training their horses in gas mask drill near Mont-Saint-Éloi, Nord-Pas-de-Calais. 15 May 1918 The ruins of the abbey can be seen in the background. On the hill overlooking Arras stand the remains of the two towers which bear testament not only to the once-powerful Mont-Saint-Eloi Abbey but also to the savage fighting that took place in the area during the Great War. From the beginning of the War the abbey towers were used by French troops to observe German positions on Lorette Spur and Vimy Ridge. The suspicions of the French soldiers were aroused when Germans fired upon their every movement until it was realised that what was giving them away was not a spy but the birds nesting on the towers which took flight when troops disturbed them. In early 1916 the British Army relieved French troops in the sector. The latter had established an extension to the local cemetery in Ecoivres, at the foot of the hill, to bury 786 of their soldiers who died there, mostly in the fighting of 1915. A military tramway used to carry supplies to the troops at the front also served as an ambulance to bring back the dead and wounded. This transport system conferred on Ecoivres Military Cemetery an unusual feature in that, from the French extension to the Cross of Sacrifice, the graves of the mostly British and Canadian soldiers are in chronological order relating to the date of death: the graves of the men of the 46th North Midland Division who relieved the French in March 1916 are followed by those of the 25th Division who fell in the German attack at the foot of Vimy Ridge in May 1916; next come the men of the 47th London Division who died between July and October 1916 and finally the graves of the Canadians who lost their lives in the successful assault on Vimy Ridge in April 1917.
5 May 1918 The fox cub mascot of No. 32 Squadron RAF in a S.E.5 plane, at Humières Aerodrome, St. Pol, France. 5 May 1918
New Zealand soldiers using a Lewis machine gun in the front line during World War I. Photograph taken in the Messines Sector, Belgium, May 1917
May 15, 1917 A New Zealand Officer sits at the entrance of a dug-out in the Front Line, reading a newspaper. Near Messines, Belgium. May 15, 1917
Happy Canadians who captured Vimy Ridge returning to rest billets on motor lorries. May, 1917.
A group of British troops at Fleurbaix, 5 kms. south-west of Armentieres. May 1916.
9 May 1915 French soldiers of the 148e Régiment d’Infanterie prepare to get off the trench during the Battle of Artois. Neuville-Saint-Vaast – Nord, France. 9 May 1915
Five German NCOs from the Field Signal Troop #229 with their signalling equipment in the Vosges Mountains, Alsace-Lorraine. May 1917. (note that in the Heliograph lens on the extreme right, can be seen the inverted reflection of the photographer). All optical signal equipment (Heliograph) required a direct line of sight and as such were often limited to sending messages to rear positions. Signals flashed towards the enemy lines could be seen by enemy signalers and/or attract the attention of Allied artillery. The heliograph was a wireless solar telegraph that signals by flashes of sunlight (generally using Morse code) reflected by a mirror. The flashes are produced by momentarily pivoting the mirror, or by interrupting the beam with a shutter.
On the 7th of May 1915, the RMS Lusitania ocean liner, travelling from New York to Liverpool, was hit by a torpedo fired from a German U-boat. The ship sank off the coast of Ireland, killing approximately 1,200 people, including 94 children. The sinking of the ‘Lusi’, one of the largest, fastest and most luxurious passenger liners of its day, caused widespread shock and outrage. The anti-German sentiment it provoked was used as a recruitment tool in the British war effort and helped to shift public opinion in the United States against Germany, leading them to enter the war in 1917. The German government claimed that Lusitania was a legitimate target due to the war supplies she was carrying – as were many other British ships. However, British and American enquiries later declared the sinking to have been unlawful. The colour scheme shown was from an earlier voyage as reports suggest that on her fateful voyage, the funnels had been painted black as a form of wartime camouflage.
Corps Expeditionaire d’Orient (CEO, AFO) during the Gallipoli Campaign. Soldiers of the French Foreign Legion on the front line in a trench within 30 meters of the Turks – Dardanelles, Ottoman Empire, April 1915 – January 1916
Battle of the Canal of Reims, 16-24 April 1917 Photo by Hans Neuhaus Possibly Pioniere from 1.Kompanie/1. Nassauisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 21, the date and location corresponds with the Second Battle of the Aisne / Nivelle Offensive.
An Anzac soldier carrying a wounded comrade at Gallipoli. April 1915. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”. Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tonga, and previously was a national holiday in Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
New Zealand soldiers eating a midday meal near the front line. One of the group translates from a German magazine found in a dugout. 20 August 1918 (Possibly the 3rd Battalion NZ Rifle Brigade) Photograph taken Grevillers 20 August 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Caption for this image in album PA1-f-094 reads: “During their mid-day meal a New Zealander translates from a German magazine found in a dug-out the story of a Maori nation from cannibal practices to civilization. There is little doubt that this article was read to the German soldier and was distorted into a statement that the Maoris were still cannibals and eat their prisoners or captives.”
South of Loos (Pas de Calais) – November 22, 1915. The lime kiln. First French line in the quarry. At the bottom, the mine pit of “fosse 15” and its “crassier”. Au Sud de Loos (Pas de Calais) – le 22 Novembre 1915.
Canadian soldiers on sentry duty on a front-line trench. September 1916.
A captured German tank at Saleux, an A7V, with the name ‘Elfriede III’, used by the enemy for the first time at Villers-Bretonneux, in the attack of 24 April 1918. It was captured by ‘A’ Coy 1st Battalion Royal Tank Corps.
Official war artist Major Richard Jack poses by his painting. ‘The Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915’ depicting Canadian soldiers making a stand against a German assault He painted this enormous work of art, with the canvas measuring 371.5 x 589.0cm (12 x 20 foot), in his London studio, c.1917 It was the first of almost a thousand works, by over one hundred artists, commissioned by the Canadian War Memorials Fund (CWMF), an organisation established by Lord Beaverbrook to document Canada’s war effort. Sir Edmund Walker, who sat on the advisory board to the CWMF, felt that Jack captured the achievements of the Canadians during the battle, but felt the work would not resonate with Canadians, who, he felt, were “not likely to appreciate such realistic treatment of war.” He was wrong and Jack’s painting remains an iconic work from the First World War.
The Funeral and Burial of Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen at Bertangles, Somme department in Picardie on the 22nd of April 1918. No. 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corp’s officers and other ranks formed the ‘official’ party- pallbearers, firing party, motor transport, funeral procession. 2237 Air Mechanic 2nd Class John A R Alexander, No 3 Sqn AFC Private Record Collection PR86/133 (extract from personal diary) “…. he was buried that afternoon, Tuesday at 16.30. They obtained a coffin and it was engraved with the following inscription in plate for his coffin – ‘Cavalry Captain Baron Von Richthofen aged 25 Killed in Aerial combat Sailley-le-Sec Somme France 21-4-18.’ There were three wreaths one from 5th Div HQ with German colors and the card read to a worth and valiant foe. Another wreath came from the Royal Air Force and one from our own 3rd Squadron each having the German colors. We supplied a firing party of 25 men, he was given a full military funeral. Oh we had all the heads here – quite a dozen official reporters and a cinematographer from the War records Dept. Of course it seemed a down right shame that such a fuss should be made over an enemy airmen – no doubt he was brave man they all are, but unless they have proof that Germany treat our good pilots in a like manner I would be one to pass him by like they are known to treat our boys. On the morning of his fall Germany were sending out to the world news of his 80th victim but our men say he always fought fair – we stood to attention as 6 of our pilots carried him out to the car. He was buried at Bertangles a French Village but oh such a dirty forsaken hole.” Dale M Titler (in his book The Day the Red Baron Died, 1970) quotes Oliver C Le-Boutillier, an American airman who was the leader of B Flight, 209 Squadron RAF, on the circumstances of Richthofen’s death and burial: ‘The next day several of us got into lorries and went to Bertangles to represent 209 at the funeral. We weren’t able to view the remains. While the services were conducted, we stood outside the cemetery and watched over the tall hedge directly opposite the open grave.’ (Note the Chinese Labour Corps man on the right, behind the hedge.)
In the early hours of the 22nd April, the remains of Manfred von Richthofen and his ‘Red’ Fokker Triplane were retrieved from the landing site and bought to the aerodrome of No. 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps. “The famous German airman was shot down and crashed in the Australian lines whilst flying very near to the ground on the tail of a British scout. Only one bullet – believed to be from a Lewis gun attached to a Battery of the Australian Field Artillery – was found in his body. Left to right: Lieutenant (Lt) C. W. Gray, observer; Lt F. J. Mart, observer; Lt N. Mulroney, pilot; Lt O. G. Witcomb, observer; Lt T. L. Baillieu, pilot (later awarded DFC); Lt R. W. Kirkwood, observer; Lt A. L. D. Taylor, observer (Killed in action 20 May 1918); Private L. H. Reid, storeman (behind); Lt M. Sheehan, pilot.” (Extract from the Australian War Memorial site https://www.awm.gov.au/) 2237 Air Mechanic 2nd Class John A R Alexander, No 3 Sqn AFC Private Record Collection PR86/133 (extract from personal diary) “Monday Splendid day for flying we were very busy. Great excitement our pilot returned saying he had brought down a fast red G machine then the telegraph told us that it was the great German pilot Baron Von Richthofen the leader of (German circus) after a long flight he crashed down between the two lines. At night our boys brought in his body and we sent a party up to salvage his machine. The papers found on him proved his identity. Next morning his body arrived at our drome awfully cut about. He was shot through the cheek, chin, heart and legs. His bus was bright red and very light, rotary engine, single prop.”
Manfred von Richthofen, better known to the Allied forces as the ‘Red Baron’, was shot down and killed near Vaux-sur-Somme, France. He was twelve days short of his 26th birthday. Debate has ranged for the best part of the following century as to who actually shot down the Red Baron. Credit went initially to a Canadian pilot, Captain Roy Brown, who was engaged in a dogfight with Richthofen at the time, diving after him low over the Somme River. However, he was also coming under ground fire from the ridge above the river and the popular theory, widely accepted now, is that the fatal shot was fired by Cedric Popkin, an anti-aircraft machine gunner with the Australian Imperial Forces. Richthofen was able to make a rough but controlled landing in a nearby field along the Bray-Corbie road, but eye witness reports at the time claim he died almost immediately. Australian stretcher-bearer Sergeant Ted Smout was among the first to reach the downed aircraft and reported that Richthofen’s final word was ‘kaputt’ (‘finished’). He later admitted he had to resist the temptation to souvenir the famed pilot’s iron cross medal and flying boots. In 1964, four years before his own death at the age of 77, Popkin admitted to a reporter for the Brisbane Courier-Mail: “I am fairly certain it was my fire which caused the Baron to crash, but it would be impossible to say definitely that I was responsible … As to pinpointing without doubt the man who fired the fatal shot, the controversy will never actually be resolved.” Although Smout resisted the temptation, the Australians – soon joined by others – made short work of claiming their own small piece of the historical trophy, cutting sections of the red fabric from Richthofen’s Fokker DR1 triplane, and salvaging other mementoes. Many of these have made their way back to the Australian War Memorial over the decades, which now holds a number of fragments of the aircraft, wood from the propeller, the plane’s compass, control column, and Richthofen’s left flying boot. Here, officers of No.3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, examine the Spandau machine guns from the wreckage of Richthofen’s now largely destroyed triplane, the remnants visible behind them, at Bertangles the day after his downing.
Manfred von Richthofen
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