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History on the Eve of WWI: The maiden voyage of the RMS Aquitania

Make history yourself:
The RMS Aquitania was a Cunard Line ocean liner and the third in Cunard Line’s “grand trio”. Nicknamed “Ship Beautiful” the ocean liner survived military duty in both World Wars and was in service for 36 years.

The maiden voyage of the RMS Aquitania took place on the 30th of May in 1914. However, the event was clouded by the sinking of the Empress of Ireland. After only three trips as an ocean liner the RMS Aquitania was taken over for military use. The RMS Aquitania was converted into an armed merchant. Due to the amount of fuel need to run the ocean liner, the former “Ship Beautiful” was converted into a trooper and ran side to side with the Britannic and the Mauretania.

In 1915 the ship was once again converted and served as a hospital ship with a capacity of 4.182 beds and was in service during the Dardanelles campaign. In 1917 the RMS Aquitania was laid up, only to return in 1918 as a troopship, carrying American troops to Britain. The RMS Aquitania was the only major liner to serve in both World Wars and the last four-funnelled passenger ship built.
May 30, 2014

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Forgotten battlegrounds of WWI

The Siege of Tsingtao – The first air-sea battle in history

Make history yourself:
Throughout the late 19th century, Germany and other European powers were fighting over colonial possessions. After an incident in 1897, Kiaochow and the surrounding areas were transferred to Germany. German authorities quickly started to build the port and city of Tsingtao, now known as Qingdao, in Eastern China. After World War One broke out, British authorities joined forces with the Japanese government and requested Germany to withdraw the German East Asia Squadron from Chinese and Japanese waters.

After several smaller incidents between the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Royal Navy and the German Navy and the blockade of the port, the Japanese and British forces started their advance. The German commander quickly withdrew his forces from the outer defensive lines and prepared for a siege of Tsingtao. On the 6th of September 1914 the Austrian-Hungarian battleship SMS Kaiserin Elizabeth, stationed in Tsingtao, was attacked by a bomber launched from the Japanese seaplane carrier Wakamiya.

The Siege of Tsingtao itself started on the 13th of September with a cavalry raid. After a successful German submarine raid by the S-90, a Japanese cruiser was wrecked. On the 31st of October 1914, Japanese troops started to dig trenches and started to shell the city of Tsingtao with large 11-inch artillery pieces. The bombardment lasted for seven days and the German defenders soon ran out of ammunition.

Lieutenant Gunther Plüschow managed to bring the last dispatches of the German governor out of town, only hours before the Japanese infantry finally attacked the last line of defense. On the 7th of October 1914 the German forces and their allies asked for terms which were promptly granted. The Allies took formal possession of Tsingtao on the 16th of November. After the dead German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers were buried in Tsingtao, the remaining troops were shipped to prisoner of war camps in Japan, where they were imprisoned until 1919.
May 28, 2014


Weapons of WWI:

#26: The Sauterelle – The bomb-throwing crossbow

Make history yourself:
One of the simplest, yet most effective, devices of World War One is without a doubt the “Arbalète sauterelle type A”. The “Sauterelle”, meaning “grasshopper”, was a bomb-throwing device very similar to a crossbow.

It was used by French and British forces on the Western front and was designed to manually throw a hand grenade into enemy trenches. Although the French Ministry of War did not pay attention to the device during the initial phase of World War I, General Henri Mathias Berthelot saw the value of the portable and soundless grenade launcher.

The Sauterelle was slightly lighter than the nearly identical Leach Trench Catapult, but admittedly it was less powerful as well. The Arbalète sauterelle type A was capable of throwing F1 grenades or Mills bomb up to 110 – 140 meter. However, the Sauterelle was actually preferred by the French and British Army and quickly replaced the Leach Trench Catapult but was itself replaced in 1916 by the 2 inch Medium Trench Mortar and Stokes mortar.
May 26, 2014


Forgotten battlegrounds of WWI

The East African Campaign of 1917 – The Battle of Ngomano

Make history yourself:

After the Battle of Mahiwa, the remaining German troops were running low on supplies. In an attempt to resupply and escape the advancing British troops, General von Lettow-Vorbeck, seen in this picture provided by the German Federal Archive and taken by Walther Dobbertin, and his men invaded Portuguese East Africa.
When Major João Teixeira Pinto and his native contingent were sent to stop the German troops, he was flanked by the Germans at Ngomano on the 25th of November in 1917. Ngomano, located in northern Mozambique lies on the confluence of the Ruvuma River and the Lugenda River.

Although warned by an intelligence officer the German advance across the Rovuma River caught the Portuguese soldiers flat-footed. To distract Pinto and his men, General von Lettow-Vorbeck shelled the camp with high explosive rounds while his soldiers crossed the Rovuma safely. Thus, the German troops were able to flank the position. In total, six infantry companies took part in the advance.

The Portuguese attempted to entrench themselves in rifle pits. But after Major Pinto and other high ranked officers were slain, they totally lost control of the situation. Von Lettow-Vorbeck moved four machine guns close to the Portuguese positions and after suffering severe casualties the remaining Portuguese troops surrendered. With the equipment captured in Ngamano, von Lettow-Vorbeck and five infantry companies moved South to attack other Portuguese forts.
May 25, 2014


Ten WW1 inventions that changed the world

Part 2: Five everyday items that were invented during World War One

Make history yourself:
1. Tea bags
Although the tea bag was invented in 1908, when a tea merchant started to send out small bags of tea to his customer, it was a German company to introduce the idea to the German army. “Teekanne” simply copied the idea and supplied the troops with small packages of tea in cotton bags. They were called “tea bombs” during the war.

2. Daylight Saving time
Originally it was Benjamin Franklin who suggested to put the clock forward in spring and back in autumn in order to save candles. However, in 1916 the German authorities decreed to set the clock from 23:00 to midnight. Initially a measure to save coal during the war, other countries soon followed. After World War One came to an end the idea was abandoned, but saw several revivals, mainly during the 1970s energy crisis.

3. Indirect blood transfusion
Severe injuries and bullet wounds were a catalyst for the development of a method to transfuse blood from one person to another. With the introduction of sodium citrate as an anticoagulant and the cooling of donated blood, the first successful indirect blood transfusion took place on the 1st of January 1916. Geoffrey Keynes then developed a portable machine to store and chill blood to make blood transfusion possible on the battlefields.

4. Paper handkerchiefs
As a byproduct of the sanitary towels, which were also used by nurses and women on their period, facial tissues out of ironed Cellucotton were introduced at the end of World War One and in 1924 named “Kleenex”.

5. Sun lamps
At the end of the war, half of the children suffered from rickets, a medical condition which causes were not known at this time. All of the children had one thing in common: They were pale. In an experiment Kurt Huldschisky placed for of them under ultraviolet light. During his studies, Huldschinsky noticed that the light strengthened the bones. Researches later found that Vitamin D is necessary to build up the bones. The terrible malnourishment of the First World War brought the knowledge to cure rickets with ultraviolet lights.
May 23, 2014


Heroes of WWI:

#16: Pipers – “The Ladies from Hell”

Make history yourself:
During World War I, the songs of a bagpipe gave hope to soldiers. Despite poison gas, barbed wire, artillery fire and tanks, the Pipers of World War I played the bagpipe to send their comrades into war. The tradition was started by the Celts and continued during the wars in Nepal, the Boer War and both World Wars.

Over 1.000 brave men died while playing the iconic instrument during the battles. They couldn’t play the bagpipes and carry weapons, so they were literally the bag for hostile soldiers. The last surviving piper of WWI, Harry Lunan, once described his feelings: “You were scared, but you just had to do it, they were depending on you.”

During the Battle of Loos in 1915 the British Army could not exploit the breach they opened in the German line. After the usage of poison gas the men of the 7th Kings Own Scottish Borderers were left in a shock. The commanding officer saw the battalion’s piper, Daniel Laidlaw, and ordered him over the trenches: “Pipe them together, Laidlaw, for God’s sake, pipe them together.” The effect of the bagpipe was magical and the courage quickly returned.

In addition to the British forces, the Canadian army also used pipers. Another famous piper, James “Jimmy” Cleland Richardson saw action during the Battle of the Ancre Heights at the Regina Trench. After the rush, he initiated with his bagpipe sound, he was given order to take back a wounded comrade, but he insisted to recover his pipes which he had left behind. His remains were found in 1920 and his pipe in 2002. James Cleland Richardson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.
May 22, 2014


Weapons of WW1

#25: The Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr – The world’s first anti-tank rifle

Make history yourself:

During the Battle of the Somme, German soldiers faced British tanks for the first time. At this time of war, the German army had no anti-tank devices to defend themselves. Normal machine guns, like the MG08, were not powerful enough to rupture the armor of tanks. The German Army Command understood the importance of weapons with more power and larger shells and in 1917 commissioned an anti-tank rifle.

The Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr was a single shot bolt action rifle with a pistol grip and a bipod to anchor it into the ground. However, the German engineers forgot devices to reduce the recoil. Thus, soldiers often fired only a fistful of shots before they experienced heavy pains in their limbs or heads. In 1918 the mass production of the anti-tank rifle started and approximately 15.800 Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr were produced until the end of war.

The cartridge of the Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr was another innovation: The 13.2mm TuF (German: “Tank und Flieger”) bullet featured a hardened steel core and was developed by the Polte ammunition factory in Magdeburg. It was originally planned for a new, heavy machine gun and is often confused with the .50 BMG. TuF, meaning “tank and aircraft”, indicates the usage of the bullets with a weight of 51.5gr. Combined with the Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr the bullets were capable of piercing a 22mm armor plate from a distance of up to 100m.
May 19, 2014


Forgotten battlegrounds of WWI:

The East African Campaign of 1914 - The Battle of Bees

Make history yourself:
The Battle of Bees was an unsuccessful attack by British Indian Expeditionary Forces under Major General Aitken. It was the first major battle of the war in Africa and is known as “one of the most notable failures in British military history”. A significantly smaller force of German troops including several Askari divisions and the volunteer forces of the Schützenkompanie fought 8.000 British soldiers and still defended the valuable position of Tanga, including the port.

On the 3rd of November 1914, nearly 8.000 British soldiers were ashore, either at the harbor or on a mine-free beach close to the city, eager to conquer Tanga. On November 4th, Aitken began his offensive, but soon his troops found themselves facing prepared defenders, engaging the British troops in a jungle skirmish or heavy street fighting. Although the British forces initially captured the customs house and a hotel, their advance was stopped when untrained battalions ran away from the battle. Meanwhile, the 9th Infantry was attacked by bees, coining the nickname “Battle of Bees”.

The volunteers of the Schützenkompanie, as well as two battalions of the Feldkompanie, were ordered to Tanga and strengthened the Askari lines. Although several battalions of the British Imperial Service Brigade escaped the scene, the German soldiers were still outnumbered eight to one. In the end, Aitken had to order a general withdrawal and most of the British equipment was left behind.

On the morning of the 5th of November, an intelligent officer entered Tanga under a white flag, apologizing for shelling the hospital. The streets of Tanga were blotched with wounded soldiers, who were medicated by German and African doctors, regardless their uniform. The General in Command, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, later estimated the number of British casualties at 2.000, while German and Askari forces suffered less than 150 casualties combined.
May 18, 2014


Heroes of WWI

#15: Warrior – The horse that Germans could not kill

Make history yourself:
Nearly one million horses were sent to the combats of World War I, only 62.000 of them returned alive. Facing the same horrors as his cavalier Lord Mottistone, the war horse “Warrior” was one of those lucky enough to see Great Britain again.

Born on the Isle of Wright, the bay thoroughbred gelding was taken to France by his owner in August 1914. During the Marne and the Battle of Ypres, Warrior was often ridden by the Commander-in-Chief, Sir John French. After Warrior was given to Lieutenant-Colonel John Seely in 1915, he was taken back to England to complete his training. Except this small gap, the horse served without an interruption until Christmas Day, 1918. Although he was buried alive twice by the bursting of big shells near him, Warrior was never seriously injured. The soldiers of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade soon gave him the nickname: “The horse the Germans couldn’t kill”.

With 20 years of age, Warrior was part of the “last great cavalry charge” in history. To stop the German Spring Offensive, which ripped through the British lines, the Canadian Cavalry had to stop the advancing troops at Moreuil Wood on the banks of the Avre River. Jake Seely and Warrior managed to take Moreuil Wood with the help of the Royal Flying Corps and over 1.000 other horses. The next day Warrior and Jake Seely were injured and sent back to Great Britain.

In 1941, Warrior died at the age of 32. It is said that his cavalier recommended Warrior for the Victorian Cross with one simple sentence: “He went everywhere I went”.
May 16, 2014


Weapons of WWI

#24: The Leach Trench Catapult

Make history yourself:

The Leach Trench Catapult was a catapult designed to throw small projectiles into enemy trenches. Although inventor Claude Pemberton Leach called it “catapult” it was technically a combination of a crossbow and a slingshot. The Leach Trench Catapult was Britain’s answer to the German “Wurfmaschine”, a similar device which could throw a hand grenade up to 200m.

The design was a “Y” shaped frame with rubber bands. Those bands were pulled by a windlass and released with a hook. During field tests, golf balls could be fired up to 180m, cricket balls or Mills bombs up to 110m to 140m. With new rubber bands Jam Tin Grenades or Ball grenades could finally be fired over 200 yards.

The first Leach Trench Catapult was produced in March 1915; 149 followed during the next months. Each single unit was produced at a cost of only £6. However, in 1916 the British catapults were replaced by the lighter French Saturelle grenade launcher and later by the Medium Trench and Stokes mortars.
May 15, 2014


The most devastating Battles of WW1

Part VI: The Battle of Verdun (February 21st to December 20th 1916)

Make history yourself:
The Battle of Verdun was the longest battle taking place during the First World War. The casualties suffered by the French Army are considered the main reason for British authorities to initiate the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Nicknamed “Unternehmen Gericht” (engl. “Operation Judgement”) by the German Ministry of War, the battle popularized the French battle cry “They shall not pass!” and claimed nearly one million casualties.

Under the command of German Chief of General Staff, von Falkenhayn, the German army planned to launch a massive attack on a narrow stretch of land. The area was protected by twenty major and forty minor forts and symbolized the eastern border of France. With the importance of those forts in mind, Falkenhayn believed that the French army would fight to the last man to protect this border and ultimately lose their morale and their majority of soldiers in the end. Not knowing that the French High Command already moved ammunition and soldiers out of the forts, von Falkenhayn and 140.000 soldiers were supported by 1.200 artillery guns and 168 planes in total.

On the 21st of February in 1916, the German army began their advance, initially facing only 30.000 French soldiers. By February 25th, the German army captured nearly 10.000 French soldiers and conquered the fort at Douaumont, which was only held by 56 part-time gunners. When General Philippe Pétain took over the command on French side, he moved 25.000 tons of supplies, 90.000 soldiers and 6.000 vehicles to Verdun in order to defend the town of Verdun. However, by the end of April both nations had suffered over 100.000 casualties.

On the 1st of June, Germany launched a massive attack on Verdun. Only three weeks later they got within 2.5 miles of the town, but were unable to continue their advance: Nearly every soldier left to advance took part in the attack on German side, and all soldiers left on French side defended Verdun.

On June 24th the battle of the Somme began and the British army forced German troops to withdraw from the front line at Verdun. By the end of October, French soldiers successfully re-captured most of the major forts and the battle continued until December.

During the Battle of Verdun nearly one million men and women were either wounded or killed. With the introduction of the flamethrower to the battlegrounds and the air supremacy, Germany set new standards for the battles to come. However, due to the Somme Offensive, 300 days of vicious fighting at Verdun did not give Germany an advantage.
May 14, 2014


Heroes of World War I

#14 – Dr. Cluny MacPherson: An Invention that saved thousands of lives

Make history yourself:
With the outbreak of World War I a weapon which was seen as uncivilized prior to the war underwent a change: Chemical weapons, such as mustard gas, phosgene and chlorine. Although the German army is widely seen as the first to use chemical weapons, the French army fired grenades filled with xylyl bromide at German troops as early as August 1914. However, Germany was the first country to use chemical weapons on a large scale.

In 1915 German troops first used poison gas. The sole protections for enemies were handkerchiefs or fabrics soaked in urine. Dr. Cluny MacPherson, a medical doctor from St. John’s in Newfoundland, quickly came up with the idea of a gas mask. With a German helmet taken from a prisoner he developed his first prototype: He added canvas hood with a breathing tube and eyepieces to the helmet and treated it with chemicals. After several improvements, the British Army quickly adopted the gas mask.

Dr. MacPhersons’s invention saved thousands of lives and was the most effective and important protective device of World War I. And although the development of gas masks went from the first urine soaked handkerchiefs over Dr. MacPherson’s version to the complicated Large Box Respirator (LBR), an estimated 88.000 people lost their lives due to the use of chemical weapons. Another 1.2 million casualties ended non-fatal.
May 11, 2014


The most devastating battles of World War I

Part V: The Battle of Liège (August 4th – August 16th 1914)

Make history yourself:
The Battle of Liège was the first battle of World War I and the first engagement of the German invasion of Belgium. The attack began on the 5th of August 1914 and lasted for 12 days, until the last fort surrendered. As a result of the offensive the United Kingdom officially entered the war.

Liège itself laid on the important railway from Germany via Brussels to Paris, which should be used for an invasion of Paris. The main defences were in the Position fortifiée de Liège, a ring of twelve forts, built in 1892. The forts were armed with large 8.3 in howitzers, 150-millimetres and 120-millimeteres guns and several smaller quick-firers and each could give shelter to up to 500 soldiers. However, the forts were not linked and smaller fortifications and trenches were not finished in 1914. However, the 40.000 Belgian soldiers stationed at Liège were not sufficient to man the forts and the field fortifications.

On the 4th of August General Otto von Emmich and his six brigades and II Cavalry Corps were ready to attack Liège. The 2nd Quartermaster Major-General Erich Ludendorff was assigned to the X Corps staff. The invasion began with aeroplanes, cavalry and cyclists armed with leaflets to calm the civilians. However, the right flank advanced to the crossing over the Meuse to stop potential Belgian reinforcement from interfering with the attack on Liège.

In the north, the 34th Brigade under Major-General von Kraewel fought their way into Herstal, engaging themselves and opposing Belgian soldiers and civilians into a house-to-house fight. Major von der Oelsnitz got into Liège but his troops suffered many casualties during the counter attack by Belgian soldiers. Other German Brigades also fought their way to Liège. However, due to the urban terrain they suffered many casualties. The attack of Zeppelin Z-VI from Cologne failed and the airship was wrecked near Bonn.

Attacks continued and the casualties reached ten thousand. None of the armies effectively gained terrain and until the 8th the attacks came to an end. However, General Karl von Einem was given the command of siege operations. Under his command the 11th Brigade advanced into the town and joined troops there. The 27th arrived with reinforcement from the 11th and 14th brigades. The first forts fell after the bombardment by mortars and German troops took over the defence of an important bridge over the Meuse.

Eager to take Liège von Einem ordered that the eastern and south-eastern front should be isolated. German soldiers isolated fort Evegnée and Pontisse on the 12th of August and started bombarding the forts Fléon and Chaudfontaine the same afternoon. Fort Liers fell at the 14th of August and German troops continued to isolate the remaining forts.

Lantin and Boncelles fell on the 15th of August and fort Loncin was devastated by the large 420mm guns. The two last remaining forts Hollogne and Flémalle were surrendered and nearly 20.000 Belgian soldiers were injured or lost their lives during the siege of Liège.

By the morning of the 17th of August German Armies were free to continue their way to the French frontier, conquering Brussels with no resistance at all. The siege of Liège lasted for 11 days and gave Franco-British forces in northern France and Belgium an advantage to prepare for the arrival of German troops.
May 9, 2014


News: Bugfixes within the HTML5-client

Make history yourself:

During the last weeks our developers have worked quite intensely on the HTML5-client. Some of their work is already implemented into the live version of Supremacy1914, but the vast majority will follow tomorrow on Tuesday the 5th of May. We prepared this list after evaluating your feedback and your opinions on certain aspects of the game.

To give you a quick overview what we did work on and what was improved, here is a small list of the tasks:

• Merged the different chats into one: We combined the Java- and the HTML5-chat. Before this, players were put into chats according to the version (Java or HTML5) they were playing.
• Title and name are changeable again: In the profile window, you can change your title and your name again.
• Fixed US morale bug: In some US provinces the morale accidentally decreased over time instead of increasing. We fixed this and the gameplay is equitable again.
• Fixed “Declare war on your own country” bug: In conquered provinces, moving troops gave you the message if you really want to declare war on your own country. This won’t happen to you again. In addition to this issue, we worked on some problematic borders, which did not change properly in case of an invasion.
• Corrected false translations: Some translations were shown in a wrong language, not corresponding with the original game language.
• Fixed a building-queue bug: During the building process of Level One Barracks, players were able to queue more Level One Barracks. After the changes, you can now queue Level Two Barracks again.
• Fixed the game ending: By now, players are not able to join a completed game and write new newspaper articles.
• Fixed notification bug: In several cases player experienced a permanent notification for new newspaper articles. After some minor changes, this bug won’t appear again.
• Fixed a boarder and province bug: In some games, after conquering a province, the boarder didn’t change according to the take-over. After reproducing the bug, we fixed this as well.
• Fixed minor issues with the instant “Reveal all Armies” spy mission
• Fixed a resource consumption bug
• Fixed possibility to use battleships as land units
• Fixed possibility to repair battleships during close combat
• Fixed building of Recruiting Offices
• Fixed “Respond Fire” feature for premium accounts
• Fixed ranking point calculation for alliances

We hope that by now we have fixed your most important aspects of the game. As a result of the hard work we put into the client, we are now able to focus on new features for Supremacy1914 itself!
May 8, 2014


Ten WW1 inventions that changed the world

Part 1: From sanitary products to the meatless sausage and stainless steel

Make history yourself:
World War One was a phase of woe and harm. New inventions like tanks, poison gas and the development of heavy artillery raised the total number of military and civilian casualties to over 37 million. Over 16 million brave men and women lost their lives and nearly 20 million people were injured, many of them severely. However, several inventions of WW1 are still an important part of everyday life and owe their success to the war.

1. Sanitary towels
Although Cellucotton was invented prior to the First World War, interest rose during the war. A cotton shortage made it nearly impossible to treat wounded soldiers properly. The combination of pulp and paper plants created a material that was five times more absorbent than cotton and cheaper to produce. So, since 1917, Cellucotton was used as surgical wadding. However, Red Cross nurses quickly realized the benefits of the invention and used it as their own personal sanitary product.

2. Zips
Although attempts to invent a system of hooks and eyes to effortlessly close pants and jackets can be tracked back to the early 19th century, it was a Swedish immigrant who came up with the idea of what is called “Zip Fastener” today. Gideon Sundback was hired to re-design the “Judson C-curity Fastener” and by increasing the number of fastener elements and implementing two facing-rows of teeth came up with the modern version of the zipper. The US Navy realized the potential in 1918 and used it for flying suits.

3. Vegetarian sausages
When several food items, like meat, butter and fresh vegetables, became scarce during the First World War, the mayor of Cologne came up with an idea to rice- and corn-flour and combined them with barley to create a sausage. The “Friedenswurst” (engl.: “peace sausage”) was invented by Konrad Adenauer but the Imperial Patent Office in Germany refused to give it a patent. Ironically, British authorities under Kind George V granted the sausage a patent in 1918.

4. Mobile X-ray machines
With millions of soldiers left with severe wounds the need for medical improvements rose dramatically. Immediately after the outbreak of World War One the French physicist and chemist Marie Curie came up with the idea of a mobile x-ray machine. By October 1914 she had successfully installed several of those machines in cars and trucks called “Little Curies”.

5. Stainless steel
Out of all inventions of WW1 steel which does not rust or corrode most likely had the largest impact on modern life. The British military tried to find a new metal for weapon production, since the traditional metal was not suited for barrels which suffered from repeated firing and the heat of bullets. In 1913 Harry Brearley added chromium to steel and discovered the secret of stainless steel. Especially the usage as medical instruments made the metal famous.
May 7, 2014


Weapons of WWI

#23: The Pomeroy Bullet – The bullet that killed cows and destroyed Zeppelins

Make history yourself:

Zeppelins were one of the most dangerous, yet fragile, weapons of World War I. A young inventor from New Zealand found a simple but effective tactic against airships: Incendiary bullets. John Pomeroy invented his first explosive bullets as early as 1902, but armies all around the world struggled to adapt his idea.

The first victim of the so called “Pomeroy Bullet” was a cow John Pomeroy blew up in his backyard. He later noted that the cow was blown to pieces by a single incendiary bullet. The New Zealand army did nothing about the new invention and Pomeroy left for Australia and later England, where he finally received great interest.

On the 2nd of September in 1916, the bullets, combined with new Brock ammunition, proved their potential. Sixteen airships set out for London this night during the biggest air raid of the war. The newest addition to the fleet was the SL11 under the command of Hauptmann Wilhelm Schramm. At 02:30 in the morning, Captain William Leefe Robinson hit the thin end of SL11 with a drum of incendiary bullets and set the tail section alight, turning the night into day. 16 German soldiers lost their lives this night.

When the first bullets by John Pomeroy were approved for service in 1916, they basically consisted of a copper tube filled with a charge of nitroglycerine in “Fuller’s earth”. The top head was slightly rounded and had a small hole in it. Upon impact the ingredients were mixed and exploded.
May 5, 2014


The most devastating battles of World War I

Part IV: The first Battle of the Marne (September 5th - September 12th 1914)

Make history yourself:
The First Battle of the Marne brought an end to the war of movement, which dominated World War I up to this time. After September 12th of 1914, trench warfare ensued. Prior to the battle German forces had reached within only 30 miles of Paris, consequently beating back Belgian, French and British army. More than half a million soldiers and civilians were either injured or died in only seven days. The First Battle of the Marne was the second major battle after the Battle of Frontiers.

When the German army headed to Paris the French capital prepared itself for a siege. The French and British forces made a strategic retreat to the river Marne and were now on the end of their tether. Under the command of Alexander von Kluck, Germany’s First Army encircled Paris from the east, thus exposing their right flank to the Allies. The French Commander-in-Chief launched a counter-offensive under the recommendation of the military governor of Paris. British Expeditionary Forces led by Sir John French came to the aide.

On the morning of the 6th of September 1914, the French Sixth Army attacked the right flank of the German army, breaking a gap into the front line. A 30 mile gap now separated the First and Second German army. French and British forces poured through the gap, while the Fifth Army continued the strike on the German Second Army. However, German forces were close to a breakthrough between the 6th and 8th of September. But in an attempt to save Paris from a siege, 6.000 reserve infantry troops were brought to action in an unusual way: In 600 cabs the men were ferried the front line.

On the 8th of September the Fifth Army launched a surprise attack against the 2nd German soldiers and widened the gap between the forces. Running the risk of being encircled, General von Moltke suffered a nervous breakdown and was replaced by his subordinates. The German soldiers were retreated to Aisne, but were followed by French and British forces. The retreat came to an end at the Aisne River where German soldiers dug trenches that were to last until the end of World War I.

Over two million men fought in the First Battle of the Marne and over 500.000 were either killed or wounded, 80.000 dead men on French side. For German forces the number of casualties is estimated around 250.000 with nameless deaths. As a result of the First Battle of the Marne, Germany was forced to face a long and costly war on two separate fronts. However, tactics changed drastically after the battle, ending the movement war and introducing the trench warfare.
May 4, 2014


Weapons of WWI

#22 – The Boirault Machine – The first experimental landship

Make history yourself:
Many nations experimented with tank design due to the static warfare of World War I. France was no exception and the Boirault Machine is one of the most interesting ancestors of the tank. Described as a “rhomboid-shaped skeleton tank without armor, with single overhead track” the landship designed by engineer Louis Boirault never saw actual combat and preceded the design of the Little Willie tank by almost six months.

The immobility of the trench warfare and the irregular terrain of the battleground led to the need of new vehicles. The French designer Louis Boirault proposed his version of a tank to the War Ministry in 1914 and only weeks later the Boirault Machine was ordered for construction. The main objective of the unarmored tank was to flatten barbed wire and crossing trenches. Made of huge parallel tracks with transverse beams, the unusual tank was powered by a single 80hp engine.

During the first testing-phase the Boirault Machine turned out to be fragile, slow and inflexible. Louis Boirault was discharged and a new engineer was put into his place, making major changes to the Boirault Machine. A second model was developed with a lighter frame, armor and a slightly smaller turning radius. However, with a speed of only 1 km/h the Boirault Machine did not prove to bethe landship the War Ministry had in mind. Thus, in 1916, the project was abandoned completely.

The project was actually abandoned when regular tank-development started. The French arms manufacturer Schneider & Co. had already proposed their version of a tank: The Schneider CA1, the first French tank to see combat action in 1916.
May 2, 2014

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