The Great War‎ > ‎

Weapons

All countries involved in the war manufactured lots of weapons and ammunition, with women on the home-front playing a crucial role by working in the munitions factories as the men were away fighting.
  • The Jam Tin grenade was used at the start of the war - it consisted of a tin filled with dynamite or cotton packed round with scrap metal or stones. The fuse at the top of the tin could be igniting using a cigar.
Gws-jamtinbomb
  • The Mills Bomb was developed in Birmingham in 1915. They were explosive-filled steel canisters with a triggering pin and a distinctive deeply-notched surface (which was thought to aid fragmentation and increase the grenade's deadliness).
Mills Bomb SGM-1
  • Poison gas attacks - normally involving chlorine or mustard gas - would destroy the lungs of soldiers and make them have breathing problems. Without the wind steadily blowing towards the enemy however, the troops would sometimes find themselves moving into their own gas cloud.
  • Rifles were used by both sides - German soldiers carried 7.92mm Gewehr 98 Mauser rifles whilst the British carried the famous Lee-Enfield rifle.
SMLE-No4-Mk1
  • Machine guns were used to provide a high volume of concentrated fire and was useful in stationary battles where there was little movement. The Vickers machine gun had a reputation for great solidity and reliability. It required a six- to eight-man team to operate: one to fire, one to feed the ammunition, and the rest to help carry the weapon, its ammunition and spare parts.
Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks
  • Planes became greatly valued for their role gathering intelligence on enemy positions and bombing the enemy's supplies behind the trench lines. Germany led the world in the design of Zeppelins, and used these airships to make occasional bombing raids on military targets, London and other British cities, but without any great effect.
Graf zeppelin
  • The first prototype of the Mark I tank was tested for the British Army on 8 September 1915. Although initially termed "land ships" by the British Army, initial vehicles were referred to as "water-carriers" (then shortened to "tanks") to preserve secrecy. Early tanks were unreliable, breaking down often. Though they first terrified the Germans at the Battle of the Somme, their use merely provided opportunities for development than actual battle success.