These weapons were first used in the American Civil War to devastating effect. But with World War One their effectiveness reached frightening new levels. Firing up to 600 bullets a minute (the equivalent of 250 men with rifles), Machine Guns were then deemed to be ‘weapons of mass destruction’.
These were the new and upgraded versions of cannons. Never in the history of man, where there so many cannons used in one war alone. For four years the British had been using artillery and firing 170 million shells in that time. But Germany had a plan up their sleeve. For years, German scientists were developing the biggest artillery ever known. It was call the ‘Big Bertha’. Big Bertha was so powerful it could fire at the heart of Paris from 120 kilometres away. The cannons weren’t the only things that had been improved. The shells were upgraded as well. Instead of ordinary shells, new High-explosive shells were developed. The Shells were thin casings and were filled with tiny lead pellets. This was so effective, that artillery fire killed hundreds and thousands of men. It also blew the ground, which made hiding much more difficult.
These were highly toxic, and very effective weapons. The Germans had invented 3 main gas grenades. The first was Chlorine gas, which was used at the battle of Ypres in 1915, killing thousands. Second was Phosgene gas and third was Mustard gas. This burned the lungs of the inhaler leaving them to die in agony. Gas masks were issued to everyone in the country, but they weren’t so useful and many people died.
Transportation greatly increased, as more troops were needed at battlefields and other places. British forces used everything from trains to lorries and even taxis. They transported 500 men in 1914; 250 taxis took the reserve troops to the Battle of Marne and thousands of lorries were used to transport troops to Verdun in 1916.
In 1914 both radios and telephones were the main ways of communication. These were very vital for the troops in trenches. However, that did not mean that messengers, dogs and pigeons were out of business.
Tanks were known as ‘The Chariots of God’ at First, they were giant blocks of metal that could carry 1-2 personnel and travelled at about 5 kilometres per hour. But scientists and developers kept making new and improved tanks and by 1918 the Anglo-American Mark 8th could carry up to 8 men, and at the same time fire 208 shells and up to 13,000 bullets. Although these beasts were powerful, they were not so reliable. Most broke down and a good example is the battle of Amiens. The British sent 525 tanks, and after four days, only 25 were left in working order. Rolls Royce also joined in the development of these tanks, by building their own armoured car! It could travel up to 88 kilometres and had 8mm machine guns.
These were the new types of weapons use in advanced technological warfare. They had everything from mini scout planes to huge blimp like bombers called Zeppelins. Air warfare was not seen as important as any other type so it did not have its own category.
Naval ships were counted very important for some of the war. British specialised in Ships such as battleships, and the Germans specialised in Submarines.