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World War I: Trenches – Weaponry and Tactics Essay

* Gases: Mustard gas was the most poisonous chemical used in the war. It was odourless and took about 12 hours to take effect. Gases caused internal and external bleeding and completely burn the throats and lungs. * Tunnelling: Specialists dug tunnels under the enemy defenses and place mines to collapse the opposing trench. * Scorched Earth: Retreating German troops applied scorched earth policy to prevent any use of facilities that were about to be lost. * Pillbox: Miniature forts developed with concrete and armour plate which meant it can take multiple artillery hits. Small slits and openings allow machine-guns to be placed and used.

* The British built very few machine-gun pillboxes because building them was not worth the labour and the cost. Probably the real reason was that the High Command feared that if the troops had such solid defences they would be less offensively-minded. * Infiltration (Hutier) Tactic: Instead of massive infantry attacks, small experienced troops were sent to slip into the front-lines and surprise defenders.

* Stormtroopers: Specially trained German troops that dealt with trench warfare. The men were highly skilled and used various weapons, i.e. hand to hand combat, wire cutters, grenades, flame throwers, machine –guns and also knew how to use numerous Alliance weapons. * Required to be loyal to the German Empire, physically fit and be able to have no family obligations. * Fast and mobile, moved quickly. Able to instill fear to enemies of overran areas. * Sharpshooters: They were specially trained and highly skilled marksman. Wore camouflage and often worked in pairs. Weapons – General

* Rifles: Most commonly used weapon. The sniper’s weapon is a rifle with an attacked scope. * Pistols: Less common than rifles, they were mainly given to vehicle operators for tanks, airplanes and officers. * Pistols were versatile and convenient and useable in cramped condition. * Machine-Guns: This weapon had many flaws such as overheating, jamming and the weight. * Very effective at killing many foot soldiers in a short period of time. * Mainly for defensive measures; lighter models were developed for more offensive measures. * Melee Weapons: Were last resort weapons when there is not enough time to reload or lack of ammo. * Bayonets: A knife attached to the end of a rifle and used for stabbing enemies. * Clubs, spades, maces and knives were used.

* Grenades: Good for invasions because they could be thrown into trenches. * Rifle Grenades, grenade launchers and catapults propelled grenades farther distances. * Two types: Timed grenades and impact grenades.

* Landmines: Set into the ground and detonates when stepped on. * Widely planted in No Man’s Land. * Caused high casualty rates. * Tanks: The first tanks were not very reliable and consisted of little more than a steel box. However, they did a great deal by the end of the trench deadlock. * Helmets: Post-war, many soldiers wore only cloth caps which offer no protection to modern weapons and shrapnel. * The amount of deaths to head wound in the French army led to development of the first steel helmet. * Artillery: Firstly, the guns which are classified as weapons with direct site shooting Howitzers: Weapons or “cannons” with curved trajectory. Mortars: Heavy guns used indirect firing method.

* Gas: First attack was by the French Army. They used tear gas to stop invading the invading German army. Poison gas was then used by the German army which killed many within a few weeks. * Airplanes: They were initially used for reconnaissance. As more aircraft were produced, they became offensive, having bombers and fighters on the plane.


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