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Artillery in World War I

When the assault came following a rafale, the attackers ran straight into the teeth of death. They became tangled on barbed wire, blocked by trenches and the shell holes of their own side. By the time they reached the enemy lines, those same enemies had emerged, safe now the bombardment was over. Worse still, the long bombardment warned defending commanders of where the attack was coming, allowing them to bring up reserves.

The infantry ran across the broken battlefield straight into the enemy guns. By the end of , high explosive shells were becoming more available. Gunners looked for ways to make the most of this technology. It was during this era that the barrage was born. Barrage — the French word for dam — was a more careful application of the deadly force of artillery fire.

It consisted of walls of exploding shells, carefully targeted to prevent the enemy taking defensive positions. First came the rafale, as it had during the early days of the war, still failing in its task of softening up the defenders. Then, while the attackers began their advance, a barrage was directed at the enemy trenches to prevent them emerging and taking up firing positions.

At the same time, another barrage was directed further back, to prevent reinforcements from approaching. This approach was first used in Allied offensives in the Champagne and Artois regions in autumn But despite the application of the new barrage technique, the attack was another bloody failure, with little ground gained at huge cost.

Artillery of World War I

The barrage continued to develop. It required more skill from gunners, and as they improved their craft they found new ways to apply it. First used on 1 July at the Battle of the Somme, the creeping barrage was a bombardment that fell just in front of the infantry assault, advancing at marching speed to provide cover and rip apart any defenders who stood in their way. Leaping barrages began by bombarding the target trenches, then moved to attack other positions, then returned to firing at the target trenches, hoping to catch the defenders as they emerged from cover.

Barrage failed at the Somme, the Germans emerging safely from cover to defend their trenches. Improved techniques had some success in at Arras and Passchendaele, but even then the gains were tactical, not strategic.

Artillery in the Great War by Paul Strong

Barrage had failed to break the enemy line. Meanwhile, the Germans were developing their own plan to win with artillery. By: James Lyon.

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By: Andrey Pavlov. By: Janice McKenney. By: Kaushik Roy. By: Boyd Dastrup. Biographical Note Sanders Marble , Ph.

a multimedia history of world war one

Whether comparatively smaller cannons or mortars manned by infantrymen or huge railroad guns served by sailors, these pieces made themselves known on the battlefield, causing death and destruction and driving changes in fortifications and tactics. While acknowledging that scholars have written about artillery since the war, editor Dr. Marble and his contributors seek to address the gap with this book. Belmonte, Marine Corps History 3. Alongside trenches and machine guns, artillery stands are at the core of the most evocative images of the conflict. As the most lethal category of weapons, artillery in many theaters literally dominated the war.

In view of the importance of the topic, it perhaps seems surprising that more has not previously been done to encapsulate World War I artillery. The immensity of the topic helps explain the earlier absence. This work goes a long way toward filling a significant gap.

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