Survival Guide

World War I- Can you survive?

by Amirtha Sureshbabu Period 8

Alliances

The two opposing groups in the Great War were the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey), and the Allies, an alliance that grew from the three members of the Triple Entente (Britain and the British Empire, France, and Russia) to incorporate 27 Allied and Associated powers, including Italy and, towards the end of the war, the USA.

New Weapons/technology of WWI

Airplanes

At the start of World War One, aircraft were very basic and crude. By the time World War One had ended, aircraft had become far more sophisticated and had differentiated into fighters, bombers and long-range bombers. The development of aircraft was stimulated by the war’s requirements, as was the way aircraft were actually used. As World War One progressed, the military believed that aircraft had a far greater value.

Machine Guns

In theory they could fire 400-600 small-calibre rounds per minute, a figure that was to more than double by the war's end, with rounds fed via a fabric belt or a metal strip. The reality however was that these early machine guns would rapidly overheat and become inoperative without the aid of cooling mechanisms; they were consequently fired in short rather than sustained bursts. When established in fixed strong-points sited specifically to cover potential enemy attack routes, the machine gun proved a fearsome defensive weapon. Enemy infantry assaults upon such positions invariably proved highly costly.

Tanks

Powered by a small internal combustion engine burning diesel or gas, a heavily-armored vehicle could advance even in the face of overwhelming small arms fire. Add some serious guns and replace the wheels with armored treads to handle rough terrain, and the tank was born. Tanks in WW1 played an extremely important role as they increased mobility on the Western Front and eventually broke the stalemate of trench warfare.

Poison Gas

Poison gas was probably the most feared of all weapons in World War One Poison gas was indiscriminate and could be used on the trenches even when no attack was going on. Whereas the machine gun killed more soldiers overall during the war, death was frequently instant or not drawn out and soldiers could find some shelter in bomb/shell craters from gunfire. By the time the war ended, the main user of poison gas was Germany, followed by France and then Britain. Though poison gas was a terrifying weapon, its actual impact, rather like the tank, is open to debate. The number of fatalities was relatively few - even if the terror impact did not diminish for the duration of the war.

Barbed wire

As the world became more industrialized before World War One, mass production of barbwire for cattle farms was underway. The military use of barbwire was quickly adapted, by making the barbs longer and sharper. Millions of kilometers of barbed wire were laid by both sides. Once trench-ware became widespread on the Western Front, the use of barbed wire became a universal means of first line defence.

Submarine

Even with the global proliferation of submarines during the first few years of the 20th century, it was the Germans and British who first demonstrated their dangerous potential for undersea warfare in the Atlantic and Mediterranean during 1914 and 1915. In the First Word War military submarines made a significant impact for the first time. The German U-Boats enjoyed a great deal of success and were responsible for destroying around half of all the food and supplies transported by the British Merchant Navy.

Trench Warfare and No Man's Land

Trench Warfare

Definition: combat in which each side occupies a system of protective trenches.

There was nothing glamorous about trench life. World War 1 trenches were dirty, smelly and riddled with disease. For soldiers life in the trenches meant living in fear. In fear of diseases (like cholera and trench foot) and of course, the constant fear of enemy attack. The impact of trench warfare on soldiers and their families was massive; it caused lots of deaths and injuries on the battlefields and also to the soldier's health.

No Man's Land

Definition: land between boundaries, especially an unoccupied zone between opposing forces.

It was used in vast quantities during the World War One to protect trenches from infantry and cavalry charges.

World War One Propaganda

Propaganda was used in World War One as in any war - and the truth suffered. Propaganda ensured that the people only got to know what their governments wanted them to know. In World War One, the lengths to which governments would go to in an effort to blacken the enemy’s name reached a new level.