First World War (Discussion Notes) Weapons

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First World War (Discussion Notes)

During WWI, the soldiers in the trenches used a wide variety of weapons, these included:

♦Rifles and pistols

♦Machine guns

♦Trench Mortars


♦Hand Grenades

♦Flame throwers

♦Mustard and chlorine gases
In the trenches, the weapon carried by all Canadian soldiers was the bolt-action rifle. It was possible for the soldier to fire 8-10 rounds per minute and could kill someone up to 1,000 metres away.

Unlike today, machine guns were not the main weapons of soldiers. They needed 3-5 men to man them in 1914 and had to be positioned on a flat surface. They could fire up to 400 rounds per minute and had the fire power of 100 guns!

Artillery is the word used to describe large-calibre mounted field guns.

The calibre is the diameter of the barrel. The stalemate meant they needed long-range weapons that could deliver devastating blows to the enemy. They needed crews of up to 12 men to work them; the shells weighed up to 900lb –very heavy.

This war was also the first to use chlorine and mustard gas. The German army was the first to use chlorine in 1915 at Ypres. French soldiers had not come across this before and assumed that it was a smoke screen. It has a distinctive smell – a mixture of pepper and pineapple – and they only realized they were being gassed when they started to have chest pains and a burning sensation in their throats! Death is painful – you suffocate! The problem with using chlorine is, weather conditions must be right before it is used. WHY?
Afterwards, Allied forces discovered that urine-soaked cotton pads helped

neutralize the chlorine. However, they found it difficult to fight like

this!! 
Mustard gas was the most deadly biological weapon that was used in the trenches. It was odourless and took 12 hours to take effect! It was also very powerful, only small amounts needed to be added to shells to be effective and it remained active for several weeks when it landed in the soil! The nastiest thing about mustard gas is that it made the skin blister, the eyes sore and the victim would start to vomit. It would cause internal and external bleeding, and would target the lungs. It could take up to 5 weeks to die!
War Machines
The Zeppelin was an airship used during the early part of the war in bombing raids by the Germans. These airships weighed 12 tonnes and contained over 400,000 cubic feet of hydrogen. They were propelled along by 2 Daimler engines, which enabled the craft to travel at speeds of up to 136mph and heights of 4250 metres! They usually carried machine guns and around 4,400lb of bombs! They carried out many raids and were eventually abandoned as they were easy targets for artillery and enemy airplanes.

Tanks also started to be used in warfare in this war, since armoured cars could not cope with the terrain. The first tank was nicknamed “Little

Willie”, it had a Daimler engine, a caterpillar track and needed a crew of 3. Its maximum speed was 3mph and it was unable to cross trenches. Not an immediate success for the Triple Alliance!

This war also had another first: planes started to be used to deliver bombs. Planes became fighter aircraft armed with machine guns, bombs, and even cannons. They were even used for reconnaissance work. Pilots were even known to fight enemy aircraft in the air, in “dogfights” to protect the men on the ground.

Information That You Are Responsible For:

As we work our way through the PowerPoint, use the discussion notes, board notes, and your own research to answer the following:

1) Make notes about the main types of weapons used in WWI.

2) What is artillery?

3) Why do you think that the bayonet became an old-fashioned weapon during this war?

4) Why do you think that machine-gunner crews were more likely to be killed by the enemy than ‘ordinary’ foot soldiers, if they were captured?

5) What are chlorine and mustard gas?

6) Why would chlorine need certain weather conditions?

7) What is a Zeppelin? Why do you think they were easy targets?

8) Why were tanks unsuccessful war machines in WWI?

9) How did this war change the way men fought in battle?

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