World War One - Weapons
During World War One a variety of weapons were used.
The main weapon used by British soldiers in the trenches was the bolt-action rifle. 15 rounds could be fired in a minute and a person 1,400 metres away could be killed.
Machine guns needed 4-6 men to work them and had to be on a flat surface. They had the fire-power of 100 guns.
Large field guns had a long range and could deliver devastating blows to the enemy but needed up to 12 men to work them. They fired shells which exploded on impact.
The German army were the first to use chlorine gas at the battle of Ypres in 1915. Chlorine gas causes a burning sensation in the throat and chest pains. Death is painful - you suffocate! The problem with chlorine gas is that the weather must be right. If the wind is in the wrong direction it could end up killing your own troops rather than the enemy.
Mustard gas was the most deadly weapon used. It was fired into the trenches in shells. It is colourless and takes 12 hours to take effect. Effects include: blistering skin, vomiting, sore eyes, internal and external bleeding. Death can take up to 5 weeks.
xThe Zeppelin, also known as blimp, was an airship that was used during the early part of the war in bombing raids by the Germans. They carried machine guns and bombs. However, they were abandoned because they were easy to shoot out of the sky.
Tanks were used for the first time in the First World War at the Battle of the Somme. They were developed to cope with the conditions on the Western Front. The first tank was called 'Little Willie' and needed a crew of 3. Its maximum speed was 3mph and it could not cross trenches.
The more modern tank was not developed until just before the end of the war. It could carry 10 men, had a revolving turret and could reach 4mph.
Planes were also used for the first time. At first they were used to deliver bombs and for spying work but became fighter aircraft armed with machine guns, bombs and some times cannons. Fights between two planes in the sky became known as 'dogfights'
Torpedoes were used by submarines. The Germans used torpedoes to blow up ships carrying supplies from America to Britain.
The Germans torpedoed the passenger liner Lusitania on May 1st 1915 which sank with a loss of 1,195 lives. Americans were outraged and joined the war in 1917 on the side of the allies.
From the 1st century A.D. to the late 19th century, one medical compound reigned supreme over all other remedies: theriac. First concocted by a Greek king worried about poisons, theriac went from being a general antidote to snake bites to an all around panacea, used to treat everything from asthma to warts, including the Black Plague. Famous doctors throughout this long history experimented with the drug and... Read More
If you think, as some do today, that many drugs used as medicines are potentially deadly, consider what people living in medieval times were prescribed as curative agents—from ground up corpses to toxic mercury to crocodile dung. The annals of medieval medical history are full of substances that make us cringe. Yet people believed in these cure-alls and willingly took them when prescribed by a doctor of the... Read More
The Neo-Assyrian Empire used earthen ramps, siege towers and battering rams in sieges; the Greeks and Alexander the Great created destructive new engines known as artillery to further their sieges, and the Romans used every technique to perfection. That is to say, the Romans were not inventors, but they were superb engineers and disciplined, tough soldiers who fought against great odds and won, repeatedly.... Read More
Demetrius I, King of Macedon, invented many siege engines including battering rams and siege towers. For the Siege of Rhodes, he created the Helepolis, the Taker of Cities, a huge armored siege tower containing many heavy catapults.
The island city of Rhodes maintained its neutrality among the warring nations of the time, although it remained friendly to Ptolemy I of Egypt, the enemy of Demetrius of... Read More
In the first part of this series, we noted the siege equipment of the Assyrians consisted of complex battering rams, earthen ramps and a dedicated corps of engineers and sappers. Alexander the Great and the Greeks would take the next steps in the evolution of siege warfare. The Greeks had invented the catapult circa 399 B.C. Alexander innovated by fastening catapults and ballistas on the decks of ships to breach... Read More