A great YouTube Series on WW1:
So far this has been a great series, distilling the event of each week into ten minute or so videos and covering all the different events of the war. It’s great that it makes clear that there was a great deal going on outside the trenches on the Western Front and indeed that at some times the Western Front was almost a sideshow.
The more I watch this series the more appalled at how corrupt, craven and just plain stupid the leaderships of ALL the players were. Time and again they seem determined to grab defeat out of the jaws of victory and expend the heroism of the troops and sailors like cartridges. Yes new technologies came into play, but as far as I can see the biggest problem so is that the governments and staffs were unwilling or unable to remove the incompetent and stupid leadership until hundreds and thousands were needlessly killed.
Here are some pics I scanned from The First World War, A Photographic History.
They were so eager to be off to war.
Belgium fought valiantly, not that it mattered. Pretty much a speed bump to the Germans for the most part.
Of course reality and casualty lists soon set in.
The battles moved across back an forth across Belgium and France until settling in to a stalemate for the nest four years on the Western Front.
Meanwhile the women and old men kept the factories running and the children fed the shells their pennies
Villages all over Europe listened for the distant sound of the guns.
Glorious victories paid for with names on the wall.
Did the leaders know that they were paying the dots on the map with their country’s future. Not just the Germans here, it was ALL the great powers of Europe.
There were never enough shells.
At least the factories kept busy.
Of course the factories were helped by gunners that couldn’t seem to hit the target. There’s probably a town somewhere in all those misses.
I can understand that the people who were the leadership learned their jobs in schools during a time that steel was mostly used for swords and the primary tool was the single shot musket. Still there was willful determination to not pay attention to what had happened in the American Civil war where the rifle made itself felt and the Russo Japanese war which showed what trench warfare and heavy artillery would do could have produced some insights into how things could go and maybe come up with solutions.
The tool that would change everything. The great advantage of the machine gun was that it was cheap and with a little work an almost perfect defensive weapon.
A History Channel show on machine guns:
Here’s a Canadian site about the war.
A World War 1 blog.
War History Online’s WW1 tag:
And some more.
The war’s legacy still lives on in the ground. They still find tons of unexploded shells, the soil near the trenches is toxic and people still die from encountering ordnance that didn’t function as intended in 1914-1918.
The bloody 20th Century started off with a bang. For a war that was fought essentially for nothing, The consequences still live with us today. Just about all the great evils of the last century were a consequence of this war and action taken the win with some sort of glory. The best and brightest of an entire generation were dumped in the trenches to be shelled, gassed, shot or just inflicted by the diseases created by the unique environment of the trenches. Most the great minds that survived the war were scarred by it.
The war destroyed governments, some who could trace back centuries while others were so frozen by the fear a repetition of the war that they were unable to deal with the real monsters that arose as consequence of the war. Anyway, watch the great series on Youtube