The Role Of Technology

.. f a rifle. The bayonet had been used since the muzzle-loading muskets of the late 17th century. During World War I, the French used a long needle bayonet, while the Germans adopted a pioneer bayonet with the rear edge formed into a saw. The British used the standard sword bayonet. Although instructors encouraged the use of the bayonet, it was of little use in real life.

Of the 142,378 Australians to reach a Field Ambulance with wounds, only 396 had suffered from bayonet wounds. Bayonets accounted for less than 0.3% of all wounds. 15 The flame-thrower was also a new advance of this war. The flame-thrower is a weapon that releases a stream of burning liquid, which can be aimed at enemy troops or strongpoints. The Germans at the Battle of Hooge first used the flame-thrower on July 30, 1915. The weapon consists of a backpack with a reservoir of compressed nitrogen and a tank containing about 10 pints of liquid flame, usually a mixture of coal tar and benzene.

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A hose ran from the fuel tank to a nozzle, on which was an ignition device. The gas pressure gave the flaming liquid a range of about 45 meters. The flame-thrower was adopted by the British, French and American forces. A terrifying weapon, its operator was always aimed at, because of this devastating weapon, and when assaulting a strongpoint with a flame-thrower, it was necessary to have an extra squad for protection.16 Ground troops also used hand grenades. The hand grenade was a small missile containing an explosive charge that was thrown.

Grenades invented in the 15th century, but were not used much. They were rediscovered during the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 and again when the trench warfare of World War I began. The first hand grenades of World War I where empty cans filled with gunpowder and stones, with a fuse. The Australians at Gallipoli used these tin grenades quite often and they were often called Jam Bombs. Eventually these bombs became an officially designed and manufactured weapon for use by the ground forces.

Hand grenades were generally fitted with some sort of time fuse that burnt for about 4 seconds: sufficient time for the grenade to reach enemy lines when thrown, but not enough time for the enemy to pick it up and throw it back. The main types of hand grenades were the British Mills bomb, the French pineapple grenade and the German stick grenade. A trained soldier could throw a grenade about 35-40 meters. In addition to explosive grenades, smoke and gas grenades were used, mainly for trench clearing and trench raids. 17 The Mills bomb was an infantry-issue hand grenade developed by William Mills of Birmingham in 1915.

It consisted of a cast-iron body filled with explosives and a central tube with a detonator, fuse, and percussion cap. The user held the grenade so that he squeezed the lever and pulled the pin. When the lever came back out the fuse lit, and after four seconds the grenade detonated. The mills grenade remained in British and Australian service until the 1960’s. 18 New kinds of machine guns were constantly being developed.

The Lewis gun was a new British light machine gun. The Lewis gun was initially designed by Samuel MacLean, and was then developed and perfected by I.N. Lewis of the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army wasnt interested in the weapon, and Lewis took the gun to Belgium.

He set up a manufacturing company there in 1913. In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, most of the staff fled to England where they were able to continue manufacturing the gun in the Birmingham Small Arms Company factory. The gun was subsequently used by the British, Belgian and Italian armies in great numbers, both as a ground weapon and as an aircraft gun. The Lewis gun became standard issue to the Australian forces in France, and each platoon had its own Lewis gunner. It was with this weapon that an Australian, Cedric Popkin, of the 24th machine-gun Company, 4th Division might have shot down the Red Baron.

19 The mortar was also first used in this war. In 1915 Sir Wilfris Stokes invented the Stokes mortar. It fired a simple cylindrical bomb. The front of the bomb carried a simple fuse based on the Mills grenade. The bomb was simply dropped down the barrel, to strike a firing pin fixed at the base; this ignited a shotgun cartridge and the explosion of the powder ejected the bomb.

The first bombs had a range of about 900 meters. Later bombs were lighter and had a much greater range. The Stokes mortar was the prototype for every mortar since designed. Stokes Mortars supported rifle battalions and Light trench mortar units. They fired up and over trenches, landing down into enemy trenches.

They could fire high explosive rounds exploding in the air or ground, and also smoke rounds. Smoke was used to both hide the American Armys position from enemy observation and fire and to cover their movements and attacks. They could also lay ‘false screens’, so that the enemy would believe an attack was coming. These could draw away German troops from the real attacks. 20 Airplanes were used to bomb, scout, and attack other airplanes. Ground weapons were used in attacking the enemy trench.

These technological advances played a huge part in World War I and, though many were primitive and inefficient they were still much more effective than previous measures. Without these advances armies would have been lost. Notes 1 Trevor Nevitt Depuy. The War in the Air, (New York, New York: Franklin Watts inc., 1976), 7. 2Ibid. 3Ibid.

4Ibid., 23. 5 R. D Layman, Naval aviation in the First World War (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1996), 53-55. 6Depuy, 24-25. 7Ibid., 12-14. 8Ibid., 16,17. 9Ibid., 25.

10Ibid. 11Ibid., 25-26. 12Ibid., 27. 13 Machine Gun. Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 14 Johnston, Arthur. The Weapons of World War I. http://www.iol.com.au/~conway/ww1/weapons.html. 15Ibid.

16Ibid. 17Ibid. 18 Alan Lloyd, The War in the Trenches (New York, New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1976), 46. 48. 19Ibid., 48. 20Ibid., 53-54.

Works Cited Depuy, Trevor Nevitt. The War in the Air. New York, New York: Franklin Watts inc., 1976. Johnston, Arthur. The Weapons of World War I. http://www.iol.com.au/~conway/ww1/weapons.html. Lloyd, Alan. The War in the Trenches.

New York, New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1976. Layman, R. D. Naval aviation in the First World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1996. Machine Gun. Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.