By Paul Strong
Artillery used to be the decisive weapon of the good struggle - it ruled the battlefields. but the historical past of artillery in the course of the clash has been missed, and its influence at the scuffling with is inadequately understood. Paul robust and Sanders Marble, during this vital and hugely readable learn, search to stability the account.
Their paintings exhibits that artillery used to be imperative to the strategies of the belligerent countries through the lengthy process the clash, in assault and in protection. They describe, in brilliant aspect, how in conception and perform using artillery built in several methods one of the opposing armies, and so they exhibit how artillery males on each side coped with the intense demanding situations that faced them at the battlefield. in addition they provide picture bills of the function performed via artillery in particular operations, together with the battles of Le Cateau, the Somme and Valenciennes.
Their paintings should be interesting interpreting for somebody who's prepared to appreciate the effect of artillery at the nice warfare and its function within the wider background of recent industrialized battle.
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Extra info for Artillery in the Great War
The best on artillery are those by Jonathan Bailey and Bruce Gudmundsson, but these deal with the wider evolution of artillery rather than specifically focusing on the events of the Great War. Perhaps many modern authors have been deterred from looking at the role of the artillery by the grim technical processes involved in industrialised, impersonalised killing and have therefore preferred to focus on the ‘more human’ story of the infantry caught up in the terrifying environment created by the war in the trenches.
They were expendable, but they would defeat an attack and shatter the attacking battalions. The early German shelling did little damage in the 3rd Division zone except for knocking out telephone lines, obliging the observation posts to send messages back by galloping messengers – not much different than communications a century earlier. But in return the British guns could not find the German batteries either and both sides fired fairly blindly; at one stage a German airplane flew over and apparently dropped a message back to the German gunners, because their accuracy improved for a time.
Some batteries fired off their ammunition, and wagonloads had to be brought forward from the ammunition columns. About noon the Germans paused to regroup, while their drumfire bombardment continued. The British infantry was learning to tell the ‘whizz-bang’ 77mm field guns apart from the booming 150mm howitzers, which burst with black smoke and earned the nickname ‘Jack Johnson’ after a heavyweight boxer. If Headlam could have surveyed his position at about 1pm he would have found his right and centre savaged; over half the guns were out of action as German shells slammed in from front and flank.