Poisonous gas

The first use of the gas:
Poisonous gas was first used on a battlefield scale by the German amy on the 22nd April 1915 during the second battle of Ypres. They had transported tanks of liquid chlorine gas to the front line and released the gas upon the allied forces during a period of time when the wind was directly blowing in the direction of their trenches. When released the gas travelled to the allied trenches and a yellow coloured cloud. The effects of this gas were devastating to whoever inhaled it, destroying the victims respiratory system and causing them to choke to death.
In this photograph you can see how the can was released during the second battle of Ypres. The gas passed out from the metal tubes that you can see the two men planting in the image. The pipes had an 8 inch diameter. Dozens of these projectors releasing gas at the same time could smother enemy lines with dense concentrations of gas that could kill many of the enemy soldiers.The only downside to these pipes was that they were extremely difficult to transport to the front lines due to their heavy weight.
Responses to the introduction of gas:
After the introduction of poisonous gas by the germans, other sides in the war saw great potential in the pioneered weapon.  The allied forces, before creating a weaponised gas of their own, created effective gas masks and other precautions to helped protect against the german gas. The British were the first to respond to the German advancements, they launched their own chlorine attacks in September 1915. However it did not end all great for them because of a change in wind direction, it resulted in more than 2,000 British soldiers being struck by their own hand during the battle by the gas.
The progression of the gas:
As the war progressed so did the gas weaponry, deadlier gasses were created to be used in trench warfare and also more reliable delivery systems of the gas were introduced . By the year of 1917, chemical shells and mortars could now deposit the lethal gas through barrages upon enemy lines or territory. Phosgene gas was first introduced in late 1915, it was an almost invisible gas and with it being much more lethal than chlorine, it was much more desired. The Germans developed their own type of gas to be used in the battlefield which was mustard gas. It was first used in the summer of 1917 and served to be very affective. The reason why it was so effective was because the gas did not target the respiratory system but the skin and eyes its victims, this was revolutionary because it defeated the use existing gas masks and respirators that the enemy armies had created to protect against the first used chlorine gas.

Machine guns

Pre war:
The machine gun itself was not first invented during the the first world war, it dated back roughly by half a century before that. Though they became popular during the war. Due to the facts that many doubted the role and effectiveness of the machine gun limited the use of them in most pre-war events and wars. Most of the machine-guns that were used prior to ww1 were heavy not mobile, so when they were innovated during the war they became a lot more effective.
Domination of the machine gun:
In the war the Germans were the first to realise the power and influence that the machine gun could give them over their enemies. They used the weapon more on the defence side of warfare and they set up the machine guns from prepared positions dug into the trench systems with overlapping fields of fire. The other armies soon realised the potential of this weapon and that the machine-gun allowed soldiers from the battlefield to be safer behind the trench lines, dug-outs, and fortifications. This however cause a stalemate during that was always be an issue throughout the entirety of the war.
Heavy and light machine guns:
During the war heavy and light machine guns were categorised into different aspects of warfare. Heavy machine-guns were removed from the infantry battalions and instead were positioned into machine gun units in order to centralise the firepower that they were capable of producing. Armies used these heavy machine guns to lay down fire upon enemy lines and fixed positions that the enemy had control of such as supply trenches.
Infantry men during the war received lighter machine gun in order for easier mobility and transportation during trench warfare. Many received Lewis machine-gun, this weapon was light enough to be carried by a single soldier alone. There still needed to be other men alongside the machine gunner however, to carry the ammunition. In  battle there could be as many two or three members of the team carrying ammunition for the gunner to ensure there was sufficient amount and they did not run out in the heat of battle. The Lewis gun and other light machine guns changed the way trench warfare was fought because it increased the infantry’s firepower during an attack and in defensive situations.
Above you can see the lewis machine gun. This machine gun was extremely effective in the battlefield because it provided the infantry and soldiers with large amount of firepower and support, though at the same time the weapon was still fairly light and was able to be carried forward at a fast pace during frontal attacks in the battlefield. It was issued in the summer of 1915 to the commonwealth troops. The gun had a 47 round magazine and was air cooled.
Above you can see the Colt “Model 1914” machine gun. At the beginning of the war, Canada purchased roughly 950 of these guns by 1915 they issued 4 of these weapons to every infantry battalion. The gun was nicknamed the Colt “Potato Digger” because of the amount of dirt it kicked up when being fired. The tripod’s legs that you can see in the photograph were very commonly “sawed off” and shortened to reduce the gun’s overall height and weight in the battlefield. A modified cocking lever was also added to the gun and this was effective because it allowed the gun to be loaded and reloaded without exposing the officers to enemy fire.
The weapon in the photograph above is the Vickers Mk.1 water-cooled machine-gun. This was one of the most highly used machine guns by the allied forces in the first world war. The gun fired a .303 calibre bullet for ammunition. It was a fairly heavy weapon which made it much more suitable for a defensive role, however the gun could also be used in the attack. The Vickers could be moved forward fairly easy in the attack, due to its weight and the fact that it needed a team of five to move it forward along with the ammunition and water to accompany the gun. The vickers was most commonly part of the second or third assault wave.


Artillery and mortars

There were two different main types of guns that armies used during the first world war, those were field guns and siege guns. Field guns were smaller calibre and lighter than siege guns so they were much easier to transport in battles, though the siege guns packed a much bigger punch.
The artillery weapons used different shells to fulfil different purposes during warfare and what needed to be done to get an edge upon the enemy. One type of shell that was used in trench warfare was the shrapnel shell, these shells were timed in order to explode in the air over the enemy in the trenches. On detention thousands of small ball bearing fired down upon the enemy both injuring and killing the troops that were not under good enough cover. The explosion was must like a shotgun blast in the sense that it shot outwards. You can see this type of shell in action from this photograph from 1917, it was taken of the Canadian soldiers in a trench on Somme.
Gunners used high explosive shells in order both collapse trenches and protection shelters. The trenches protected well against shrapnel that was fired upon it, however they were still very vulnerable to high explosive shells. These shells were capable of leaving large craters in the battlefield and killing off anyone who was near the site of detonation.
Mortars were one of the most effective yet simple siege weapons that was used during the war. Mortars fired large shells in high trajectory lines in order to plummet down upon the enemy trenches. During the war armies used martyrs with many different types and sizes of ammunition. Their sizes and payloads also differed greatly, siege mortars were used for needs on bigger scales where as infantry mortars could be more easily moved around and carried by a small group of men. Making them more versatile for the needs of trench warfare.
Over the course of the first world war, the sheer number of artillery guns increased greatly. By the midpoint of the war, more guns at higher calibers than had been seen before were being used by the Allied forces which essentially allowed them to have constant firepower on their side. By the year 1918 the allied gunner were able to out gun the German forces and gunners, this allowed the allies to have much better support for the infantry men during attacks and such in the battlefield. The Allied gunners became very specialised with the artillery weaponry and as a result they were able to better locate their enemy and account of other factors such as weather and conditions that could have possibly altered the trajectory of the artillery fire.
In the image above you can see the 18-pounder field gun. This gun was the British armies most widely used field gun throughout the entirety of the war. During ww1 more 10,000 of these gun were produced and they were created in a variety of different types, this included some anti-aircraft variants. During the first world war the 18-pounder fired over 100,000,000 shells. This is equal to an average of 43 rounds per minute, from the years 1914 to 1918.
The weapon above is the German 240 Millimetre Albrecht Trench Mortar. This mortar was very unusual due to its’s wooden construction that was reinforced by a metal liner, wires, and bands. In order to adjust the elevation of the mortar, the operator of the weapon would use a hand wheel. Once at the right angle of elevation, the mortar was then locked into position and that was done by tightening the bolts and nuts on the weapon. The limitations of this mortar was the fact that it had a low accuracy and the range of it was only from 50 to 550 metres, which was not a great distance at the time.
The image shows the German 21-centimetre Mörser howitzer. This powerful weapon had the capability to destroy enemy trenches and dugouts that were located up to 8,200 metres away. The steel planks that were attached onto the wheels were very helpful for the trench environment because it helped with transporting the howitzer through the rough and muddy terrain.


1914: early grenades
During the first world war, all armies relied heavily on the use of grenades in order to both fight and attack enemy trenches and also to defend themselves against attacks. Grenades has been a weapon invented hundreds of years before, however they were not often used previous to the napoleonic war until ww1. The first grenades that were used in 1914 were hand made by the soldiers and were extremely unreliable. The first made grenades were typically cans that were filled with nails, metal and gunpowder. Their biggest flaw was the fact that they were almost an dangerous to the officers who made them as they were to the enemy, this was because they often exploded before they were intended to be.
1915: dozens of types
By the end of the year 1915 during the war, grenades were becoming essential and all armies were being supplied with them. There were many different types of grenades that were used by different sides during the war. Some riflemen in the trenches were specialised in this field, they attacked the enemy using specialised grades that were fired from their rifles. Regular infantry men on both sides of the war carried a variety of different types of grenades. On the German side of the trenches, their preference was with the “stick grenade”. This grenade could be thrown at further distances though the price they paid was a smaller explosive charge within. On the British and Canadian side of trench warfare, they used a more egg shaped grenade that could be thrown roughly around 30 meters and carried a larger payload than the stick grenades, though the downside to these was the fast that their range was around 10 meters less than the germans.
1917: Importance
By 1917 during the war, grenades became such a necessity in the battlefield that all infantry officers were issued with grenades. The reason why they were becoming so important was because the majority of trench assaults needed  these extra grenades to be able to complete the objectives of overthrowing enemy trenches, they were also needed in order to protect against enemy attacks.
Above is the No. 5 MK. I Hand Grenade, it was one of the most affective infantry weapon that was used throughout the first world war. This type of grenade was first issues in the spring of 1915 to troops. It worked by removing the safety pins, once done there was a 5 second period before the grenade exploded. This gave the troops enough time to throw the grenade upon the targets before it exploded. The weapon was lethal within a 10 meter radius but it was capable of sending shrapnel up 200 meters from the site of detention, making it extremely effective
In the picture above you can see the German egg grenade, it is a model of the grenade from 1917. The reason why this grenade was so successful and effective was due to the fact that it could be thrown up to distances of 50 to 60 meters, this was difficult to do however and could only be executed by experts. It was called the egg grenade because of its shape and appearance.
This is the commonly used stick grenade, it was one of the first models of the grenade from 1915. This model was very unreliable and was not successful because it could only detonate when stuck against a hard surface. Due to this fact the grenade did not work well in the common wet or muddy conditions within the trenches.
Above is the refined and improved German stick grenade from 1917. This model of the grenade featured a 5.5 second delay that the thrower could activate by pulling the toggle at the bottom of the handle, as you can see above. This was a great improvement from the previous 1915 model of the weapon because it was war more reliable due to the timer fuse as opposed to the grenade needing to impact upon a hard surface. On detonation, metal debris would be fired and propelled from an explosive chamber in the grenade.
The rifle grenade shown above was designed in order for the troops in the trenches to be able to propel grenades further than could be done by hand. At the beginning of the war, grenades were sometimes launched with catapults but that method was not reliable at all. The type of grenade above was called a “J” Pattern grenade, it was first introduced in February 1915 and was the first rifle grenade pioneered by the British army. By the end of 1916, Britain was producing 70,000 of these grenades per week. When added into the rifle barrel this grenade could be fired up to distances of 300 meters

Further developed weapons

What kind of weapons were developed during the war, when and by who?

Flare pistol

This pistol shoots fire light. This can be used as signalling to people and to not get pinpointed by the snipers. This was made by lieutenant edward. This was used for defensive weapon. This was developed from the pistol. This was made between 1847 to 1910 but it was further developed and it was use in during the war.


The French were the first one that are first to make solution to put the machine gun into the airplane and used it.  The airplane was used at april 1 1916. The machine gun was placed at the propellers. This was used for the offensive use and defensive.  This was more used in offensive way in The First World War.   

Grenade rifles and grenades

Grenades was simply attached to the files under the barrel. This was not use a lot in the battle. This was because the grenades was not accurately aimed to the enemy. This was used in 1916. People still continue to develop the grenade rifles after completed weapon. British pioneered with the french and improved the the cup grenade from average 180 to 200 meter to impressive 400 meter.    

Trench weapons

The trench warfare taking place throughout the entirety of the first world war led to the creation of effective new weapons that were pioneered in the battlefields. Along with these new weapons there were also many improvements made of older weaponry.
One of the biggest aspects of trench warfare that motivated these advancements in weaponry was the deadlock between both sides. These new weapons were introduced in order to help break the deadlock and the goal of either side was to put themselves in front and give themselves an edge over their enemy.
Those weapons that were introduced were on many different scales, some were small-arms and personal weapon and some were on much larger scales.
Small-arms and personal weapons:
  • At the beginning of the war the majority of soldiers only carried a rifle and bayonet as their form of weaponry
  • As the war progressed the military began to equip their soldiers with a wider range of weapons to help them in trench warfare and battles
  • In their small units of around 30 soldiers, there was a balance of the weaponry amount the soldiers so that the weaponry they had to offer varied.
  • Some of the personal weapons that were introduced into trench warfare were: grenades, rifle grenades, mortars, and several types of machine-guns.
Knives and clubs:
  • Weapons such as catapults, gives and clubs were used in many raids.
  • 1915, the Canadians carried out many different assaults on their enemy’s trenches
  • Those weapons were very effective in these raids because the combat and fighting that took place was at very close ranges, at these close ranges those weapons were more useful than others such as guns, etc.


The push dagger was not a weapon assigned to all military officers, it was a blade that was personally purchases by officers and soldiers. The main use of this weapon was to provide added protection during trench raids and hand to hand contact that would have taken place. The design of the push dagger, as you can see above, was extremely effective for hand to hand combat because its handle was created in such a way that it was perpendicular to the blade itself. It was a double edges blade. With this handle design it allowed for the most thrust and power during an attack.
Soldiers made their own clubs to use in the raids that they took part in during trench warfare and battles. Many of the raises depended on both speed and stealth so the club was a very efficient weapon to use. The club in the picture below was made from the handle of an entrenching tool, and it was modified into a club using an eight-pointed cast iron ring.
Above you can see the Colt .45 calibre automatic pistol. In 1914, the Department of Militia and Defence purchased 5,000 of these pistols for use of the officers of the 1st Canadian division. This pistol was semi-automatic, and was designed to holding eight .45 calibre cartridges of ammunition within the detachable magazine. The magazine is situated in the grip of the pistol. On the pistol, commonly the owner’s name and unit were engraved onto it.
Above you can see the revolver, this was the standard assigned sidearm throughout the first world war. The majority of soldiers carried this pistol, which accompanied the other weapons they were assigned such as riles, etc.