Resource Pack Beyond the Western Front Terrains of World War IDeveloped for World War I Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings by Ken Khan, KateLindsay & Richard Marshall, University of Oxford (August 2012). Free, high quality educationalresources on new perspectives of the First World War. http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk.
Von Mücke’s landing party, Direction Island. Available via Australian War Memorial as Public Domain.Having disabled the Australian signal station on Direction Island, a coral island lying in the eastern Indianocean, a landing party from the German cruiser SMS Emden sets out to take control of the station’s schoonerAyesha. On 9th November 1914, the Emden was run aground to prevent her capture by a superior ship of theAustralian navy. Most of her crew was captured, but the landing party (pictured) manage to escape to neutralSumatra via the Ayesha, eventually making their way back to Germany after a harrowing overland marchfrom Yemen to Constantinople.
Schutzgebiet Kiautschou. Bismarck-Berg Batterie (Kampf um Tsingtau, 1914) [‘Kiautschou Bay concession.Battery on Bismark Mountain (Battle of Tsintau, 1914)‘]. Bundesarchiv, Bild 116-214-0. Available viaWikicommons as CC-BY-SAGermany leased Kiautschou bay from the Chinese in 1898, making Tsingtau the capital of their colony. Chinarevoked the lease in August 1914, and an Anglo-Japanese force began a naval blockade of the port in October.On 7th November Tsingtau fell to Japanese forces after a week-long siege.Photograph of a German Jäger machine gun detachment. Note terraces of rice fields in background.
Australian flag raised over Angorum [Angoram], New Guinea. Available via Australian War Memorial asPublic DomainAustralian flag being raised during the proclamation that the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Forcewas taking control of German New Guinea, 16th December 1914.North-eastern Papua New Guinea and various outlying islands were administered by the Germans as a colonyfrom 1884. Following a request from Great Britain made on 6th August 1914, Australia began raising anexpeditionary force to capture the colony and particularly its signal stations. The campaign was relativelybloodless as most German positions were surrendered after a show of strength from the Australians, thoughthis required much manoeuvring through tropical jungle. The one serious engagement, at Bita Paka on theisland of New Britain, resulted in around fifty casualties. With the exception of Lt. Hermann Detzner and hisband of native levies, who had been exploring the interior of New Guinea on the outbreak of war and onlygave themselves up in January 1919, all German forces in the colony had surrendered by the end ofSeptember 1914.
Original caption: Bombardment of Hartlepools, Dec. 16th 1914. St Barnabas, Hart Road. Available fromMuseum of Hartlepool via Flickr as Public DomainOn 16th December 1914, a German naval squadron bombarded the British seaside towns of Hartlepool, WestHartlepool, Whitby, and Scarborough, the first occasion on which civilians in Britain came under direct attack inmodern war. Although intended to lure the Royal Navy out of its bases and into a trap, the rival fleets missedone another at sea, while the large number of civilian casualties (over 130 dead and nearly 600 wounded)presented the British with a propaganda coup, causing widespread condemnation of Germany’s actions inneutral America.
Original caption: Artillerie vor schweren Aufgaben [Artillery for a serious task]. Bundesarchiv, Bild 105-DOA3100by Walther Dobbertin. Available via Wikicommons as CC-BY-SADie abmontierten Geschütze ders Kleinen Kreuzers "Königsberg" werden von Eingeborenen gezogen *‘thedismounted guns of the Light Cruiser Königsberg pulled by natives‘+. German East Africa, 1916. A maximum of2,000 Europeans fought for the Germans in the East African campaign: the majority of their force was made upof African levies, who suffered disproportionately on both sides from disease and exhaustion. Employing guerillatactics to tie down a British force several times their size, von Lettow-Vorbeck‘s troops were the last major forceto surrender in the war, news of the Armistice reaching them on 14th November 1918.
Original caption: Zeltlager [tented camp]. Bundesarchiv, Bild 105-DOA3098 by Walther Dobbertin. Available byWikicommons as CC-BY-SATented camp in German East Africa, erected by a watercourse marked by trees. Large tents in shade of treespossibly reserved for Europeans, with separate tent lines assigned to different African tribesmen. In theabsence of any supply infrastructure, camps had to be erected near rivers for drinking water, but these wereinfested with malaria-bearing mosquitoes.
View of Mudros Bay, Lemnos. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, available via Wikicommonsas Public DomainPhotograph of the makeshift facilities at Mudros, with French tented hospital in background and wine store inforeground (French troops received an issue of wine as part of their daily rations).Mudros Bay (lying on the south coast of the island of Lemnos) was chosen as the forward naval base for theinvasion of Gallipoli, despite being undeveloped prior to the arrival of the Franco-British fleets. Lack of drinkingwater prevented the large concentration of troops on the island; these had to be gathered and trained in Egypt.Although intended to be the primary evacuation centre for casualties, the island’s meagre facilities were soonswamped; many had to be treated on ship or taken back to Egypt. After the failed invasion, Mudros remainedthe base for the naval blockade of the Dardanelles until the Armistice.
View of V Beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, taken from SS River Clyde. Australian War Memorial H10284,available via Wikicommons as Public DomainPhotograph taken on 6th May 1915 by Lt Wilfred Park RNVR [Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve].The SS River Clyde, carrying 2,000 British troops, was beached during the landings at Cape Helles on 25th April1915. She was subsequently used as a breakwater and dock, a bridge of barges (pictured) linking her to thebeach. Here supply depots were established to support the trench lines further inland.
Original caption: Brigade Hqtrs [Headquarters], behind the trenches at Anzac. JCT [Joseph Cecil Thompson].Available from Ellen Thompson via Flickr as CC-BYPhotograph taken by Joseph Cecil Thompson, 9th Bn. Australian Imperial Force, who served as a stretcherbearer in the Gallipoli campaign. Presumably headquarters of 3rd Bde.In coordination with the Cape Helles landings, Australian and New Zealand troops were disembarked furthernorth (at Anzac cove) to capture a series of ridges in the rear of the Turkish positions. The troops were unableto break out of their initial beachhead, however, and their position was scarcely more than 1000 yards deep.The ground rose steeply from a narrow beach to a series of ridges and spurs, all within range of Turkish guns;men had to dig into the cliffs for shelter from the constant harassing fire.
Armoured car, ‘The Terror’, in Cairo, 1915. Available from Ellen Thompson via Flickr as CC-BYPhotograph taken by Joseph Cecil Thompson, 9th Bn. Australian Imperial Force, who served as a stretcherbearer in the Gallipoli campaign.Another shot of this car (nicknamed ‘The Terror’), taken by Thompson on 20th October 1915 at Heliopolis,notes that it was made in the Egyptian railway workshops out of boiler plate, armour plate not being available.The Ottomans launched several offensives in an attempt to capture the Suez canal and Egypt from the British(the first in January 1915); this armoured car was probably built in response to the threat of invasion, butseems to have been used mainly on the streets of Cairo and Heliopolis to impress the local population, whowere hostile to British occupation.
Original caption: The Camel Corps at Beersheba. Available from the G. Eric and Edith Matson PhotographCollection, Library of Congress, via Wikicommons as Public DomainOttoman camel corps at Beersheba; other photographs from this series taken c. 1914-1915.The shape of campaigns in the Sinai and Palestine was largely dictated by the availability of water; Beershebaassumed great tactical importance as the location of several wells on the otherwise waterless south-easternapproach to Palestine, and therefore the furthest inland that large-scale military operations could bemaintained.
Original caption: The trenches at Harcira. Available from the G. Eric and Edith Matson PhotographCollection, Library of Congress, via Wikicommons as Public DomainOttoman troops in trenches, armed with German rifles and machine guns, c. 1917.Trenches were dug in the desert, but were rarely as elaborate as those on the Western Front. Warfare wasrelatively mobile, artillery concentrations small, and life generally took place on the surface: positions such asthis were only manned in the event of an expected attack (this image probably posed for the camera, or part ofa training exercise).
British soldiers advancing across flooded ground in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), 1919. Available viaWikicommons as Public Domain.British forces landed at the head of the Persian Gulf in 1914, and proceeded to advance up the River Tigristowards Baghdad. Lack of infrastructure made supply by river boat vitally important to the early stages of thecampaign; after a serious defeat at the Siege of Kut in 1916, the British improved the port facilities of Basra toswamp the country with men and material and began building a railway to supply their advance northwards.Baghdad fell in March 1917, but troops were then removed to the Palestine theatre and the advance washalted. After the Armistice, the British continued to hold Iraq as a Mandate, but fierce opposition from thelocals required continued military operations. Although normally considered a desert country, heavy rains inwinter caused serious flooding and muddy conditions of the sort normally associated with the Western Front.Marshes between the Euphrates and Tigris also hindered the campaign.
A Dunsterforce lorry passing through the hills of northern Persia. Available via Australian War Memorial asPublic DomainIn late 1917, General Dunsterville was appointed to lead a military mission, composed of roughly 1,000 British,Australian, New Zealand and Canadian troops, who were to march into northern Persia and combat the spreadof German influence in the region. After fighting hostile tribes in the mountains of Persia, his force eventuallyarrived on the shores of the Caspian Sea, but in September 1918 was ejected from the oilfields of Baku. Afterthe Armistice the force returned and occupied the oilfields until September 1919, in an attempt to blockBolshevik forces from advancing eastwards and potentially threatening Afghanistan and India.
Original caption: American officers frequently employed reindeer teams in crossing the Dwina River and ingoing about Archangel. Here are two officers with a team they have just engaged. A Russian young lady isalso a passenger. 03/07/1919. Available from National Archives and Records Administration via Wikicommonsas Public DomainHuge quantities of stores for Tsarist Russian forces had been landed by the Allies and stored at Archangel. In1918, the Germans had sent a division to Finland and Bolshevik forces were threatening the port; it wasfeared these stores might fall into the wrong hands. The Allies accordingly landed an expeditionary force inAugust 1918 to safeguard the base, with the ultimate aim of inspiring the local populous to rise up and defeatthe Bolshevik forces, allowing the Eastern Front against Germany to be reopened. Amid mounting indifferencefollowing the Armistice, the last troops of the expedition were evacuated in August 1919.
LaVoys camera outfit on Serbian front. Available from Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health andMedicine via Flickr as CC-BY-NC-SAMerl LaVoy was an American photographer, filmmaker, explorer and mountaineer who documented variousaspects of the conflict in still and moving pictures.Austro-Hungary invaded Serbia in July 1914 in response to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, butwere swiftly ejected. With German and Bulgarian help, however, the whole of Serbia was conquered in late1915, and the small Serbian army was evacuated from the Adriatic coast to be landed alongside British andFrench forces in Salonika. Much of the fighting took place in mountainous country, where shelters had to beerected above ground and mules used for transport.
German Pioneers from the 101st Infanterie Division in Macedonia, near the Greek border, June 1916.Available from Drakegoodman via Flickr as CC-BY-NC-SAAfter the conquest of Serbia in 1915, the Allies began landing troops in Macedonia to open a new front in theBalkans. However, political differences between the Allies and the uncertain attitude of Greece resulted indeadlock, and little sustained effort was made on this front until the last months of the war. At the end ofSeptember 1918 the French managed to force Bulgaria to surrender, an event that precipitated German callsfor an armistice. Besides the heat, the major irritant facing troops in this theatre was the mosquito; some ofthe men above are wearing netting to protect their faces from bites.
Austro-Hungarian trench on the summit of Mount Ortler, 1917. Available via Wikicommons as Public DomainOrtler rises 12,812 ft above sea level, and is the highest peak in the Eastern Alps. Italian and Austro-Hungariantroops fought from mountain summit to mountain summit, holding trench lines in the snow and glaciers andwinching artillery up the sides of mountains. Shelters and tunnel systems were driven into the ice; the mostelaborate, the Eistunnel (‘ice tunnel’) in the glacier flanking Hohe Schneide (Monte Cristallo in Italian), wasconstructed by the Austro-Hungarians to allow them to attack the summit of the mountain; over 6 miles long,the system eventually included extensive ammunition stores and barrack accommodation for troops.
Franco-Italian observation post on the banks of the Piave, 6th January 1918. Available via Wikicommons asPublic DomainFrom the Alps, the Italian front stretched across the Venetian-Friulan Plain to the Adriatic. Fighting traversedthis plain several times during the war from the Piave in the west to the Isonzo in the east, pausing on thebanks of the rivers crossing the plain. Trench lines of the sort found in France and Flanders were constructed onthis part of the Italian front, but the poor quality of the opposing forces ensured a much greater degree offluidity, each side attacking and retreating by turns until the arrival of German and Allied reinforcements.
German sentry on Eastern Front armed with captured Russian rifle. Available from Drakegoodman via Flickras CC-BY-NC-SAThe much greater length of the Eastern Front prevented the development of a continuous trench network, asthere were simply not enough men to build or defend such a position. Offensives generally opened, therefore,with large initial advances, but momentum was exceedingly hard to maintain in the face of rudimentary roadand rail communications. After 1914, fighting often ceased by mutual consent in the winter months.
German Waldlager [‘forest camp’]. Russia, 1916. Available from Drakegoodman via Flickr as CC-BY-NC-SAAfter 1915, the Germans broadly maintained a holding strategy on the Eastern Front, directing most of theirattention to the West, where the French and British posed a more serious threat. Elaborate quarters wereoften constructed to make life as comfortable as possible; large stretches of the Eastern Front were covered bypine forests, providing shelter and a convenient supply of building material.
Original caption: Unterstände in Borissow [‘Shelters in Borrisov’]. Available from Drakegoodman via Flickr asCC-BY-NC-SAThe pristine condition of these German breastworks around Borissov (Barysaw), a town inBelarus, demonstrates the extreme difficulty Russia had in supplying enough material to the front. TheGermans were able to construct and hold strong positions unmolested, the chaos and backwardness ofRussian industry preventing an adequate supply of artillery and shells. Unlike the Western Front, mostbattlefields were never subjected to heavy bombardment, and no ‘’devastated zone’ of craters developed.