9.3 Death, Destruction, Trench Warfare and our World’s First Modern War
The Western Front…and the trenches
Trench Warfare Troops dug deep ditches known as “trenches” for protection. These trenches would serve as sleeping quarters, hospitals, and dinning rooms. The area between two opposing trenches was called no man’s land. No man’s land was covered with barbed wire, mines, and waves of bullets.
Rats in the Trenches Corpses and food in the trenches attracted rats. Rats propogate quickly (one pair of rats can produce 880 offspring in a year) Trenches became infested They could grow as large as a cat and were bold Feed on wounded men who were still alive but couldn’t protect themselves Eat eyes and liver Soldiers watched them to see when an attack was coming…said to disappear minutes before
New Weapons 1. Poison Gas- The fumes would cause blindness, coughing, vomiting and suffocation. 2. Tank- This was first used by the British. They were used to roll across no man’s land. 3. Airplanes- These were used for taking photographs of the enemy’s position and to drop bombs. 4. Machine Gun- Used to shoot people down quickly in no man’s land. 5. U-Boat- Submarine used by Germans to sink enemy ships.
WWI Machine Gun
Air Combat Airplanes fighting each other was a new concept in WWI. Flying was very dangerous because the gas tank sat underneath the pilot seat. Airplanes got the nickname “flying coffin”. If you shot down 5 enemy planes you got the title of “Ace”. The most famous German pilot was Manfred von Richthofen who was known as the “Red Baron”. He shot down over 80 airplanes. The most famous American pilot was Eddie Rickenbacker who shot down 25 planes.
Eddie Rickenbacker He was born in Columbus Ohio in 1890. He was a famous race car driver before WWI. When the war started, he decided to join as a pilot. He fought in 134 air battles. “Ace of Aces” For his heroism, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The American Soldier The typical soldier was armed with 107 pieces of equipment. Such as: 1. Rifle 4. Gas Mask 2. Helmet 5. Wire Cutters 3. Knife 6. Grenades The nickname for the American soldier was “Doughboy” because of their large appearance carrying all the equipment.
The Battle of Argonne Forest The supreme commander of the Allied forces was Ferdinand Foch from France. The American leader was General John J. Pershing. His nickname was Black Jack. Fighting began for this battle on September 26th, 1918. There were 600,000 U.S. soldiers that fought in this battle. Very slowly the American forces defeated German positions.
End of the War During The Battle of Argonne Forest, The Allied forces opened a hole in the German lines which ended the fighting. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, fighting stopped. (11/11/1918) Germany agreed to an armistice or a cease fire. We celebrate Nov. 11th each year as Veterans Day to honor our soldiers.
Alvin York Born in 1887 and raised very poor in the mountains of Tennessee. He became very skilled in shooting from hunting wild game. During WWI he killed many Germans and captured more than 130 prisoners. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and became the most decorated soldier of WWI. There have been many books and movies made about his life.
The Christmas Truce Christmas Eve 1914…the gunfire stops around 9 pm British troops begin to hear silent night being sung in German, and they join in The next morning both sides walk out into no man’s land bringing gifts, they shake hands and hang out Soccer game is played Next day….the war resumes