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The Germans employed the Haber process of nitrogen fixation to provide their forces with a constant supply of gunpowder despite the British naval blockade.

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The large number of head wounds caused by exploding shells and fragmentation forced the combatant nations to develop the modern steel helmet, led by the French, who introduced the Adrian helmet in It was quickly followed by the Brodie helmet , worn by British Imperial and US troops, and in by the distinctive German Stahlhelm , a design, with improvements, still in use today.

Quick, boys! Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. The widespread use of chemical warfare was a distinguishing feature of the conflict. Gases used included chlorine, mustard gas and phosgene. Relatively few war casualties were caused by gas, [] as effective countermeasures to gas attacks were quickly created, such as gas masks.

The use of chemical warfare and small-scale strategic bombing as opposed to tactical bombing were both outlawed by the Hague Conventions of and , and both proved to be of limited effectiveness, [] though they captured the public imagination. The most powerful land-based weapons were railway guns, weighing dozens of tons apiece. The British and the French sought a solution with the creation of the tank and mechanised warfare.

WW2 - German perspective of D-Day beach landing (1)

The British first tanks were used during the Battle of the Somme on 15 September Mechanical reliability was an issue, but the experiment proved its worth. Meanwhile, the French introduced the first tanks with a rotating turret, the Renault FT , which became a decisive tool of the victory. The conflict also saw the introduction of light automatic weapons and submachine guns , such as the Lewis Gun , the Browning Automatic Rifle , and the Bergmann MP Another new weapon, the flamethrower , was first used by the German army and later adopted by other forces.

Although not of high tactical value, the flamethrower was a powerful, demoralising weapon that caused terror on the battlefield. Trench railways evolved to supply the enormous quantities of food, water, and ammunition required to support large numbers of soldiers in areas where conventional transportation systems had been destroyed. On the Western Front neither side made impressive gains in the first three years of the war with attacks at Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele, and Cambrai — the exception was Nivelle's Offensive in which the German defence gave ground while mauling the attackers so badly that there were mutinies in the French Army.

In the Germans smashed through the defence lines in three great attacks: Michael, on the Lys, and on the Aisne, which displayed the power of their new tactics. The Allies struck back at Soissons , which showed the Germans that they must return to the defensive, and at Amiens; tanks played a prominent role in both these assaults, as they had the year before at Cambrai. The areas in the East were larger. In a series of attacks along with the Bulgarians they occupied Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and most of Romania. The Allies successes came later in Palestine , the beginning of the end for the Ottomans, in Macedonia, which drove the Bulgarians out of the war, and at Vittorio Veneto, the final blow for the Austro-Hungarians.

Germany deployed U-boats submarines after the war began. Alternating between restricted and unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic, the Kaiserliche Marine employed them to deprive the British Isles of vital supplies.


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The deaths of British merchant sailors and the seeming invulnerability of U-boats led to the development of depth charges , hydrophones passive sonar , , blimps, hunter-killer submarines HMS R-1 , , forward-throwing anti-submarine weapons , and dipping hydrophones the latter two both abandoned in Fixed-wing aircraft were first used militarily by the Italians in Libya on 23 October during the Italo-Turkish War for reconnaissance, soon followed by the dropping of grenades and aerial photography the next year.

By , their military utility was obvious.

They were initially used for reconnaissance and ground attack. To shoot down enemy planes, anti-aircraft guns and fighter aircraft were developed. Strategic bombers were created, principally by the Germans and British, though the former used Zeppelins as well. Manned observation balloons , floating high above the trenches, were used as stationary reconnaissance platforms, reporting enemy movements and directing artillery. Balloons commonly had a crew of two, equipped with parachutes , [] so that if there was an enemy air attack the crew could parachute to safety.

At the time, parachutes were too heavy to be used by pilots of aircraft with their marginal power output , and smaller versions were not developed until the end of the war; they were also opposed by the British leadership, who feared they might promote cowardice. Recognised for their value as observation platforms, balloons were important targets for enemy aircraft.


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  5. To defend them against air attack, they were heavily protected by antiaircraft guns and patrolled by friendly aircraft; to attack them, unusual weapons such as air-to-air rockets were tried. Thus, the reconnaissance value of blimps and balloons contributed to the development of air-to-air combat between all types of aircraft, and to the trench stalemate, because it was impossible to move large numbers of troops undetected. The Germans conducted air raids on England during and with airships, hoping to damage British morale and cause aircraft to be diverted from the front lines, and indeed the resulting panic led to the diversion of several squadrons of fighters from France.

    All German survivors were summarily executed by Baralong ' s crew on the orders of Lieutenant Godfrey Herbert , the captain of the ship. The shooting was reported to the media by American citizens who were on board the Nicosia , a British freighter loaded with war supplies, which was stopped by U just minutes before the incident. On 24 September, Baralong destroyed U , which was in the process of sinking the cargo ship Urbino.

    According to Karl Goetz, the submarine's commander, Baralong continued to fly the US flag after firing on U and then rammed the lifeboat—carrying the German survivors—sinking it. Only 24 of the medical personnel, patients, and crew survived. Survivors reported that the U-boat surfaced and ran down the lifeboats, machine-gunning survivors in the water. The U-boat captain, Helmut Patzig , was charged with war crimes in Germany following the war, but escaped prosecution by going to the Free City of Danzig , beyond the jurisdiction of German courts.

    After the war, the German government claimed that approximately , German civilians died from starvation and disease during the war because of the Allied blockade. All food consigned to Germany through neutral ports was to be captured and all food consigned to Rotterdam was to be presumed consigned to Germany. The British were determined on the starvation policy, whether or not it was lawful. The German army was the first to successfully deploy chemical weapons during the Second Battle of Ypres 22 April — 25 May , after German scientists working under the direction of Fritz Haber at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute developed a method to weaponize chlorine.

    The effect of poison gas was not limited to combatants. Civilians were at risk from the gases as winds blew the poison gases through their towns, and they rarely received warnings or alerts of potential danger. In addition to absent warning systems, civilians often did not have access to effective gas masks.

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    An estimated ,—, civilian casualties were caused by chemical weapons during the conflict and tens of thousands more along with military personnel died from scarring of the lungs, skin damage, and cerebral damage in the years after the conflict ended. Many commanders on both sides knew such weapons would cause major harm to civilians but nonetheless continued to use them.

    British Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig wrote in his diary, "My officers and I were aware that such weapons would cause harm to women and children living in nearby towns, as strong winds were common in the battlefront. However, because the weapon was to be directed against the enemy, none of us were overly concerned at all.

    The war damaged chemistry's prestige in European societies, in particular the German variety. The ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian population, including mass deportations and executions, during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is considered genocide. The Armenians were intentionally marched to death and a number were attacked by Ottoman brigands. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Greeks , and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.

    The German invaders treated any resistance—such as sabotaging rail lines—as illegal and immoral, and shot the offenders and burned buildings in retaliation. In addition, they tended to suspect that most civilians were potential francs-tireurs guerrillas and, accordingly, took and sometimes killed hostages from among the civilian population. The German army executed over 6, French and Belgian civilians between August and November , usually in near-random large-scale shootings of civilians ordered by junior German officers.

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    The German Army destroyed 15,—20, buildings—most famously the university library at Louvain —and generated a wave of refugees of over a million people. Over half the German regiments in Belgium were involved in major incidents. British propaganda dramatising the Rape of Belgium attracted much attention in the United States, while Berlin said it was both lawful and necessary because of the threat of franc-tireurs like those in France in The British soldiers of the war were initially volunteers but increasingly were conscripted into service.

    Surviving veterans, returning home, often found they could discuss their experiences only amongst themselves. Grouping together, they formed "veterans' associations" or "Legions". A small number of personal accounts of American veterans have been collected by the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. About eight million men surrendered and were held in POW camps during the war. All nations pledged to follow the Hague Conventions on fair treatment of prisoners of war , and the survival rate for POWs was generally much higher than that of combatants at the front.

    At the siege of Maubeuge about 40, French soldiers surrendered, at the battle of Galicia Russians took about , to , Austrian captives, at the Brusilov Offensive about , to , Germans and Austrians surrendered to Russians, and at the Battle of Tannenberg 92, Russians surrendered.

    When the besieged garrison of Kaunas surrendered in , some 20, Russians became prisoners, at the battle near Przasnysz February—March 14, Germans surrendered to Russians, and at the First Battle of the Marne about 12, Germans surrendered to the Allies. Prisoners from the Allied armies totalled about 1. From the Central Powers about 3. Most were captured just before the Armistice.

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    The United States held 48, The most dangerous moment was the act of surrender, when helpless soldiers were sometimes gunned down. A survivor said: "We were driven along like beasts; to drop out was to die.

    In Russia, when the prisoners from the Czech Legion of the Austro-Hungarian army were released in , they re-armed themselves and briefly became a military and diplomatic force during the Russian Civil War. While the Allied prisoners of the Central Powers were quickly sent home at the end of active hostilities, the same treatment was not granted to Central Power prisoners of the Allies and Russia, many of whom served as forced labour , e.

    Military and civilian observers from every major power closely followed the course of the war. Many were able to report on events from a perspective somewhat akin to modern " embedded " positions within the opposing land and naval forces. In the Middle East, Arab nationalism soared in Ottoman territories in response to the rise of Turkish nationalism during the war, with Arab nationalist leaders advocating the creation of a pan-Arab state.

    In , the Arab Revolt began in Ottoman-controlled territories of the Middle East in an effort to achieve independence. Lawrence forged the Iyasu photo. A number of socialist parties initially supported the war when it began in August Italian nationalism was stirred by the outbreak of the war and was initially strongly supported by a variety of political factions. One of the most prominent and popular Italian nationalist supporters of the war was Gabriele d'Annunzio , who promoted Italian irredentism and helped sway the Italian public to support intervention in the war.