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TheBeam
04-27-2009, 02:07 AM
I'm making a quiz on WWI on another site (I'll post the link here when it's complete) and it will be open to the general public to test their knowlege on WWI. It will have questions ranging from basic knowlege to commonly misunderstood beliefs, to expert questions and general trivia. Partly, this quiz will be to educate and provide answers at the end.

It's all multiple choice.

So my question is, what questions should I include to make the test really interesting?

flamethrowerguy
04-27-2009, 09:30 AM
Ask how Flechettes were used in WW1.;)

Rising Sun*
04-27-2009, 10:26 AM
Ask how Flechettes were used in WW1.;)

Well, most German women then were quite fleshy, but there were some rather nice ones who weren't. They were called Flechettes and they were used to ........

Rising Sun*
04-27-2009, 10:49 AM
So my question is, what questions should I include to make the test really interesting?

If you want to be obscure and test their classical knowledge as well, ask them whether capturing the Trojan horse would have altered the course of the war?

The site of ancient Troy is somewhere on the other side of the Dardanelles to Gallipoli, although the Turks have a firm view about its location for tourism purposes. If the Allies had won at Gallipoli and had captured Troy then they would have been in control of the Dardanelles as originally intended by the Gallipoli campaign and could have achieved the purpose of that campaign.

pdf27
04-27-2009, 02:23 PM
Who was Little Willie?
Friedrich Wilhelm Victor August Ernst, crown prince of the Kingdom of Prussia and of the German Empire. The first prototype tank was named after him.


Who was the last surviving holder of the Blue Max?
Ernst Jünger. The civil version of the Pour le Mérite still exists, but was never known as the Blue Max.


Which cartoonist was visited by Military Intelligence, accused of giving away military secrets by means of his implausible inventions?
William Heath Robinson - allegedly true, but I have been unable to find a reference so I might be imagining it.

What did a "mad minute" comprise of?
One of the prewar musketry tests for British troops was hitting a man-sized target with as many rounds as possible inside a minute at 200 yards. The minimum pass rate was 15 rounds hitting the target in this time, with the all-time record being 37.
This is one of the reasons the BEF did so well for it's size at Mons and Le Cateau, and why the Germans initially thought they had run into a machine-gun unit.

Who said "Lafayette, we are here!"?
Lt. Col. Charles Stanton, at Lafayette's tomb after a parade through Paris of the first American troops to arrive in France. The quote is popularly attributed to Pershing, but I can't find any evidence that he actually said it.

TheBeam
04-28-2009, 01:03 PM
Wow! Great start to the questions. I'll give some examples of questions I was considering:

1) What caused the most injuries in WWI?
a) Machineguns
b) Shapnel
c) Hand Grenades
d) Rifles

(b)

2) Which ace shot down the most airplanes?
a) Billy Bishop
b) Manfred von Richthofen
c) Rene Foch
d) Earnst Udet

(b)

3) How many times were gas weapons used before 22-Apr-1915 at the village of Langemarck near Ypres?
a) 0 -- this was the first use of gas in the history of warefare
b) 1
c) 2
d) 3

(c)


4) Which country was the 1st to use gas?
a) France
b) Britain
c) Germany
d) Russia

(a) Yes, France used gas first in the form of hang grenades. They were so ineffective that the Germans failed to notice.

5) How the heck were flachettes used in WWI?
a) Claymores
b) large comfort women
c) ?
d) ???

6) The first American Airplanes to patrol the front were missing what important element?
a) Engines
b) Machineguns
c) Maps
d) Country markings.

(b)

7) What year did WWI start?
a) 1910
b) 1914
c) 1916
d) 1918

8) What year was the Armistice signed, ending all hostilities?
a) 1914
b) 1918
c) 1919
d) 1920

9) What major countries made up the Triple Entente?
a) Germany, Italy, Japan
b) Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary
c) Austria-Hungary, Germany, Turkey
d) Germany, Turkey, Italy

10) Which country did Japan fight first in WWI?
a) England
b) USA
c) Germany
d) Russia

Uyraell
04-30-2009, 10:33 AM
7 = b >> Aug 4th, 1914, according to British records. NZ was the first Commonwealth nation to offer troops to Britain, followed about 6 hours later by Australia.

8 = c >> IIRC, Aug 28th, 1919, at Versailles.

5 = >> Two major uses for flechettes.
A: Dropping on troops in trenches, hand-thrown from aircraft attacking from above.
B: Dropping on observation balloons and (more importantly) Zeppelins once altitude was gained above the airship. This was because early "tracer" and "De Wilde" ammunition was unreliable as an ignition source, whereas flechettes were almost certain to cause enough damage to cause an airship to depart the area, which was, after all, the purpose of the exercise. A Flechette is at its' simplest a steel dart, about 6 inches long, and approximately half a pound in weight.

1 >> the trenches themselves were the cause of the greatest injuries, via trench foot and stagnant water, often leading to superation of any existing wounds.
In mechanical terms, the machinegun was the weapon which caused most casualties in WW1.

6 >> no "American Airplanes" patrolled the front, because no American-manufactured aircraft ever reached the European Front. Most aircraft used by the Americans in action over the Western Front in WW1 were French, chiefly Nieuport 11's, 17's, and Spad VII's, IX's and XIII's.

Just a little general knowledge, thought it fun to reply. :mrgreen:

Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

pdf27
04-30-2009, 01:36 PM
1 >> the trenches themselves were the cause of the greatest injuries, via trench foot and stagnant water, often leading to superation of any existing wounds.
In mechanical terms, the machinegun was the weapon which caused most casualties in WW1.
Source? Everything I've ever seen cites artillery as causing between 50 and 75% of all combat casualties. Furthermore, except for US forces roughly 2/3 of casualties were in combat, with the rest being down to all forms of disease and accidental injuries. Accordingly, this smells like bullshit to me.

Schuultz
04-30-2009, 06:36 PM
How about these:

1) Why was the Pickelhaube abolished within the first years of its use by the German Army in WW1?
a) It looked to much like the French helmet
b) The Kaiser didn't like its looks
c) The Spike gave away the troops position in the trenches
d) The Spike proved ineffective at goring enemies in close combat

(c)


2) What was the reason for the first trenches in WW1
a) It was part of the warring nation's military doctrines
b) Troops were pinned down and started to connect their foxholes, creating trenches.
c) The trenches were part of the nation's defensive networks before the war already.
d) The trenches were the result of the Officer's constant running from one position to another.

(b)


3) Did the United States pay the Germans for their rifles during the war?
a) Yes
b) No

(a) The American Springfield rifles was little more than a modified Gewehr 98


4) Had Gavrilo Princip not eaten a sandwich, WW1 would have never started.
a) True
b) False
c) Who's Gavrilo Princip?

(a) After the first assassination attempt using a hand grenade had failed, Princip went to eat a sandwich in a cafeteria. Franz Ferdinand had the bad luck to slowly drive by that cafeteria, and Princip used this opportunity to shoot him.

More to come!

pdf27
05-01-2009, 02:37 AM
Perhaps more importantly, IIRC the Pickelhaube was made from leather and so provided virtually zero protection. After the French and then British adopted steel helmets, the Germans did too - and putting spikes on the top would be thoroughly awkward for mass production.

Uyraell
05-01-2009, 04:00 AM
Hello Pdf27,

Source is Volume One of "The Great War" Published in 1923, (By Reeds, IIRC) and given to my father by his father, who fought at Passchendael on 4th Oct 1917, and in certain earlier battles after being transferred to Europe from Egypt.

There is a chapter on "Medicine in the Trenches" (Chapter 7 or 8, I think) in which illnesses and casualties are detailed in numbers broken down by categories.
Surprising though it may seem the listing under "Trench Foot" has up to 65% of those in the trenches suffering from the condition during the conflict, though admits to the bulk of them being returned to active duty in less than 30 days. The other factor regarding what I inaccurately called "stagnant water" is that whatever water seeped into the trenches was infected with various pathogens resulting from the decomposed bodies (of both humans and animals such as horses) that had not been recovered, and which had thus released their contents into the local seepage.

It goes without saying that any existing open wound that encountered groundwater would thus be a pathogenic nightmare, medically-speaking.

Not surprising thus that a trench was a very unhealthy place to be, from a pathological standpoint.

In effect, while the various weapons such as artillery , grenades, mortar shells and machineguns certainly caused vast amounts of deaths and wounds, casualties did result from the combat environment itself, notwithstanding that that fact is and has been consistently understated ever since.

I hope that clarifies my earlier post, and I apologise for not having cited my source in it.

Regards, Uyraell.

Rising Sun*
05-01-2009, 05:22 AM
Uyraell might be right about casualty numbers, if the Australian records are anything to go by.

Our total battle casualties for the war on the Western Front were 179,455 against total non-battle casualites of 207,978, 202,246 of the latter being sick and 1,039 dying of disease. http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/histories/14/chapters/30.pdf

There is a comment in our official war history medical volumes about trench foot in 1916 that "the problem of "trench foot" was dominating the military and medical situation alike". p.87 at
http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/histories/14/chapters/06.pdf

The large casualty list is attributed primarily to the factors which cause trench foot. At p.91 in the last link.

See note 36 at p.97 in the last link for concealment of the condition in casualty lists and the miserable treatment given the sufferers of trench foot.

Uyraell
05-01-2009, 09:27 AM
I read that note with much interest, RS*: My Thanks for the links.
It bears out much of what the 1923 book I cite says or implies.

Personal note, here: My dad never really could get his father to speak much on the war in Ypres, as the old man had lived it. That he died before my birth is somewhat unfortunate, in as much as I might just have heard things my dad did not, in the old man's company. The major comment my dad makes on his father's memories is this: "The old man said it was a terrible, terrible place, with conditions people here (home in NZ) can never imagine, and God willing will never have to imagine. The trenches were the worst part, and for some of them (the men) combat was a relief, horrible though that was."

I can't really comment, other than from what I myself have since read, all of which tends to bear-out the old man's expressed views, albeit in somewhat understated manner.

Respectful Regards, and Warm Thanks, RS*, Uyraell.

Schuultz
05-01-2009, 11:16 AM
The trenches were the worst part, and for some of them (the men) combat was a relief, horrible though that was."

You read that a lot in the subject literature. No matter what personal/semi-personal accounts I have read before, the soldiers always thought of the waiting in the trenches as the worst part. In combat, they would turn on a kind of 'Animal-Mode' where it would be kill or be killed, and they would be completely steered by the adrenaline and training, without much time for thought.

In the trenches, however, there was plenty of time to think.

TheBeam
05-02-2009, 01:55 AM
Perhaps more importantly, IIRC the Pickelhaube was made from leather and so provided virtually zero protection. After the French and then British adopted steel helmets, the Germans did too - and putting spikes on the top would be thoroughly awkward for mass production.

Plus the spike was to stop swords from splitting the helmet in two...which seems kinda unlikely compared with having a big point sticking out, visible above your trench.

But I thought the Germans were the first to introduce steel helmets, not the British. I know the Canadians had cloth caps in both 1914 and 1915...which meant a whole lot of head wounds.

TheBeam
05-02-2009, 01:58 AM
(a) After the first assassination attempt using a hand grenade had failed, Princip went to eat a sandwich in a cafeteria. Franz Ferdinand had the bad luck to slowly drive by that cafeteria, and Princip used this opportunity to shoot him.

lol! So the main reason for the successful assignation that started a world war was ... a sandwich?!!?

TheBeam
05-02-2009, 02:31 AM
Source? Everything I've ever seen cites artillery as causing between 50 and 75% of all combat casualties. Furthermore, except for US forces roughly 2/3 of casualties were in combat, with the rest being down to all forms of disease and accidental injuries. Accordingly, this smells like bullshit to me.


The 50-75% of all combat casualties were from artillery. But this is in interesting distinction: combat versus all casualties. Trench foot was very common...but it wasn't a killer: just a temporary cause of removal from combat status.

When I first read the statement about the trenches, I too, thought it was BS...as WWI was the first war that actually had more deaths from combat than from illness, starvation and other other environmental killers. (Note: I said 'deaths' and not 'casualties.') But from the way I phrased the question...trenches would be the correct answer. So I think I'll do two questions:
1) Which weapon caused the most injuries? (same choices as above)
2) What caused the most casualties? (add "e) trenches" )

FYI, according to the British official medical history whose statistics were taken from a sample of 212,659 wounded, 58.51% of casualties were from shells and mortars, 38.98% from bullets, 2.19% from bombs and grenades (keep in mind that bombs were often referring to grenade type devices and not things dropped from planes), and bayonets come in with a measly 0.32%

(If you don't like these figures either, see this post (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=156183#post156183))

pdf27
05-02-2009, 04:41 AM
But I thought the Germans were the first to introduce steel helmets, not the British. I know the Canadians had cloth caps in both 1914 and 1915...which meant a whole lot of head wounds.

Adrian - Summer 1915 (can't find a more accurate date)
Brodie - October 1915
Stahlhelm - February 1916

pdf27
05-02-2009, 04:44 AM
FYI, according to the British official medical history whose statistics were taken from a sample of 212,659 wounded, 58.51% of casualties were from shells and mortars, 38.98% from bullets, 2.19% from bombs and grenades (keep in mind that bombs were often referring to grenade type devices and not things dropped from planes), and bayonets come in with a measly 0.32%
See, those are the numbers I was thinking of. Rather surprised at the low number for grenades though - the British at least would often attack down trenches with the bombers being the main assaulting force, protected by a small party of bayonet men. I **think** I've read that the Germans did much the same, so those casualty statistics kind of imply they were wasting their time.

Rising Sun*
05-02-2009, 07:21 AM
See, those are the numbers I was thinking of. Rather surprised at the low number for grenades though - the British at least would often attack down trenches with the bombers being the main assaulting force, protected by a small party of bayonet men. I **think** I've read that the Germans did much the same, so those casualty statistics kind of imply they were wasting their time.

The casualty figures from bayonet may not accurately reflect the psychological impact of a bayonet assault on the enemy and the bayonet's true worth.

As WWI veteran Corporal Jones was fond of saying of bayonet assaults on the Germans in the TV series Dad's Army:
"They don't like it up 'em, the cold steel. They do not like it up 'em!"

Somewhat similarly, as far as I'm aware nobody was killed by a Japanese firecracker during a Japanese assault in WWII or a Chinese bugle during a Chinese assault in the Korean War but the crackers and bugles had a significant impact on the enemy while it was being assaulted with conventional weapons.

As for the distinction between artillery and grenade / bomb (which necessarily includes Mills bombs = grenades as well as aerial bombs) wounds, I doubt that there was any great forensic science effort devoted to distinguishing between artillery and grenade shrapnel in the field medical services. I wouldn't take those figures as being too precise.

TheBeam
05-04-2009, 01:55 PM
Adrian - Summer 1915 (can't find a more accurate date)
Brodie - October 1915
Stahlhelm - February 1916

Ahhh, I do remember now that the French were first. I'm still surprised that the Germans were last.

Anyway, I found an interesting video on the restoration of an Adrian helmet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH7NGjn4qdo

The French text at the beginning translates roughly to (yeah, I'm Canadian):
"The largest number of wounded men were wounded in the head. There were 6-8 times as many cases where the shrapnel did not puncture the skull and so even a lightweight metal cover on your head could avoid injury and death. On 21 February 1915, the Ministry of War decided to adopt steel helmets for the infantry.

The painter George Scott proposes military helmet derive from that of dragons, but it is too complex and would take too long to produce.

The sub-intendant Adrian undertook the study of an easier helmet to make.
The order for 1 600 000 Adrian helmets was given on 5 June 1915 and the Adrian helmet officially enters into service on 31 July 1915.

TheBeam
05-04-2009, 01:59 PM
See, those are the numbers I was thinking of. Rather surprised at the low number for grenades though - the British at least would often attack down trenches with the bombers being the main assaulting force, protected by a small party of bayonet men. I **think** I've read that the Germans did much the same, so those casualty statistics kind of imply they were wasting their time.

I totally agree. The bombers seem to have had a great impact in the battle accounts but they are way under represented in these figures. Especially in cases where men were blasted by grenades as they were crowded down in dugouts.

And so few hand to hand/bayonet wounds? I just don't believe these numbers.

pdf27
05-04-2009, 02:28 PM
I do. Time and time again people break and run when faced with a bayonet charge coming their way, rather than standing and fighting back. Bayonets are a first-class psychological weapon, but ever since the invention of the breech-loading rifle have only been a third-class weapon of war.

Schuultz
05-04-2009, 03:14 PM
True. That's also something I didn't really like in the movie 'Passchendaele'.

The Bayonets were used too much, and the movie completely failed to show the importance and amount of Artillery barrages.

If you believed the movie, the soldiers fought using only bayonets and knifes, with only the odd Canadian using a sharpened shovel (something that, to my knowledge, was rather a habit of the Germans).

Also, there was only the odd artillery shell hitting in the middle of an attack, which out of some reason only seemed to hit the otherwise unbeatable Canadians. Maybe Paul Gross didn't want to show a Canadian actually losing a hand-to-hand combat...

That's something the 1979 'All Quiet on the Western Front' actually showed a lot better. In it, the soldiers used shovels, stones, trench-knives and pistols in close combat, rather than planted bayonets.
Also, when the assault managed to break through the artillery barrage, you can observe the outposts retreating to built-out trenches, rather than facing the bayonet charge.


BTW, did you guys know they're remaking 'All Quiet on the Western Front' as a big-budget Hollywood Epic? I was actually really excited to see that, until I read that they're only going to use the book's storyline as an 'inspiration' - which makes me really worry about the quality of the story and the message.
Here's hoping they don't **** it up too bad...

Cuts
05-05-2009, 03:45 PM
FYI, according to the British official medical history whose statistics were taken from a sample of 212,659 wounded, 58.51% of casualties were from shells and mortars, 38.98% from bullets, 2.19% from bombs and grenades (keep in mind that bombs were often referring to grenade type devices and not things dropped from planes), and bayonets come in with a measly 0.32%


See, those are the numbers I was thinking of. Rather surprised at the low number for grenades though - the British at least would often attack down trenches with the bombers being the main assaulting force, protected by a small party of bayonet men. I **think** I've read that the Germans did much the same, so those casualty statistics kind of imply they were wasting their time.


I totally agree. The bombers seem to have had a great impact in the battle accounts but they are way under represented in these figures. Especially in cases where men were blasted by grenades as they were crowded down in dugouts.

And so few hand to hand/bayonet wounds? I just don't believe these numbers.

One of the reasons that grenades feature so low on the cas stats is that in general they are very mediocre weapons.
When training with grens they always seem to be impressive, anyone that has used a Mills 36M will attest to that, but unfortunately the explosion is only part of the equation.

I'll keep this very rough for several reasons, but it should go some way to explaining the figures.

Lethal hand grenades can be roughly divided into two main types, offensive and defensive.
Offensive grenades have a danger radius much less than the distance it can be thrown while in defensive grens it is the opposite.
This is because when defending an area it is assumed that the troops are behind or in some form of protection, (barricades, pillboxes, fire trenches,) so fragments travelling back towards the defenders should have nil effect.
The attacking troops need to keep up the momentum and should not have time to dig shellscrapes so will be in danger from their own grenades if the danger radius is too large.

Most grens of the Great War were of the defensive type and pretty poorly constructed at that.
We're all familiar with the external fragmentation pattern, (square 'chocolate blocks,') of the No 5, No 23 and No 36 grens, and the theory is that on detonation it will rupture alond the depressions where the cast body is thinner, sending many rectangular pieces of metal in all directions.
Only that ain't how it is.

Faults in the casting process, the metallurgy and the filling will all affect the fragmentation of the gren even though the blast effect may still be present.

The surface upon which the gren lands will also influence the fragmentation, sometimes negating it completely. Most modern manufacturers base their lethal/danger radii lies, sorry I mean specifications, on the wpn detonating on a hard standing, as should it fall into thick mud the fragment velocity, and therefore range, will seriously deteriorate. That said, if a cast gren is thrown onto an unyielding surface it runs the risk of cracking and even losing the filler. Indeed, a close friend is only alive today due to the adoo using poor quality Pakistani 36M grens which broke on impact with the surrounding rocks, the igniter, fuze and det being the only parts which functioned correctly.

The most effective hand grenade to date is the L109A1, a version of the Swiss RUAG HG85, although the model following it is not as good. Even though no other grens come close to the HG85 in effectivity, it is still not an effective weapon in open country. The rate at which the fragments lose velocity is surprising, so much so that on seeing the curves all professional infanteers realise that grens are only of use in bunkers (pillboxes,) two to three man trenches and for house clearing.

Back to the Great War.
Now we have seen how inadequate industrially produced grens tend to be, what chance do the jam tin bombs have ? Not a lot frankly. While it's indisputable that people were killed by nearly every model of grenade, that doesn't mean the weapons used were generally effective.
Couple the poor effect of most grenades with the amount used - over one hundred million throughout the course of the war - then the cas figs look realistic.

Schuultz
05-05-2009, 05:17 PM
Thanks for that very interesting post, Cuts!

Considering that you seem to be an expert on this field, I have a different question for you:

Would you consider certain types of Grenades more effective in general than others?

From what I read, I assume you're talking mainly about fragmentation grenades (which, I assume, was the stuff they used in WW1), but how would HE or Phosphor grenades relate in effectiveness and reliability?

Cuts
05-05-2009, 08:20 PM
Thanks for that very interesting post, Cuts!

Considering that you seem to be an expert on this field, I have a different question for you:

Would you consider certain types of Grenades more effective in general than others?

From what I read, I assume you're talking mainly about fragmentation grenades (which, I assume, was the stuff they used in WW1), but how would HE or Phosphor grenades relate in effectiveness and reliability?

Glad you enjoyed it.

Yes, some types of grenade are more effective than others, but there is a deal of information I won't put on the net for fear of people misusing it or trying to experiment.

Frag grens tend to use an HE filler, but I imgine you're thinking of those with little or no deliberate fragmentation. Many of the 'jam tin bombs,' the improvised grens made near the front line in the early years and at Gallipoli, were in effect concussion grens, although just as many had 'farmyard confetti' added in an attempt to pep them up a bit.

While in an explosion primary or secondary fragmentation causes most of the casalties, the blast should not be underestimated.
PIRA used coach bolts for frag in some of their bombs used on the UK mainland in '74, but the fast moving hot gases from a few lbs of gelignite can and does remove limbs.
Hand grenades use a lot less explosive so the blast is smaller, but in confined spaces it can be just as lethal as fragmentation.


Phosphorus grenades are in theory used to produce instantaneous screening smoke, but their secondary anti-personel and incendiary uses are not lost on anyone.
White Phos, (WP,) is perhaps the most widely known although Red Phos (RP,) is increasingly used. RP stores safer, burns cooler and does not produce toxic smoke.
On the bursting of a WP gren various flakes of phosphorus, (which ignites on contact with air,) are dispersed. As it burns very rapidly the production of noxious smoke is immediate and the flakes burn into most things with which they come in contact - including clothing and flesh. The burns produced are particularly painful as the flakes stick to the skin and continue burning until it is starved of air or burnt out, so they 'burrow' or produce deep* burns.
Because the smoke produced is hydrophyllic, it will irritate all moist areas or mucous membranes and even cause serius burning of these areas/organs.


Once again we're back to containing the area to which a gren caues damage, so like frag grens both WP & HE are more effective in confined spaces.




* The old maxim "Deep is Distressing but Large is Lethal" springs to mind, but having said that burns from WP are more likely to kill than others types as the chemical may be absorbed by the body which may result in organ failure.

Schuultz
05-06-2009, 12:12 AM
So, do I get your point right that effectively, grenades are used more as an area of denial weapon/to slow down advances in open spaces, and only really effective at killing in confined spaces?

That's really a surprising discovery for me, as my notion of them was always as extremely deadly, no matter what location. But I guess that's what you get for believing the movies, huh? :neutral:

pdf27
05-06-2009, 02:22 AM
OK, so I'm quite happy to accept that grenades aren't nearly as lethal as they're cracked up to be (probably a good thing as the only ones I've handled are the Chorley ones, and I'm crap at throwing them!).
What I'm struggling to understand however is why such use was made of "bombing parties", with the riflemen being assigned to support the bombers. Was it simply the impressive bang and the psychological effect?

Cuts
05-06-2009, 07:18 AM
So, do I get your point right that effectively, grenades are used more as an area of denial weapon/to slow down advances in open spaces, and only really effective at killing in confined spaces?

That's really a surprising discovery for me, as my notion of them was always as extremely deadly, no matter what location. But I guess that's what you get for believing the movies, huh? :neutral:

It mainly comes down to fragmentation & velocity. Especially with the heavy cast grens, if you're hit by a fragment you're likely to be seriously wounded, but the chances of being hit...

One of the reasons the RUAG 85 is so good is it's well controlled frag pattern. Think of the surface of a ball and then imagine that area spread evenly over another sphere one metre in diameter.
Then crank up the diameter to five metres. The gaps between the original surface area are getting larger, right ?
Now imagine they're more randomly spread out over the larger sphere, a large piece here, three other pieces there, etc.
Get the idea ?

One of my myriad of 'Hollywood hates' is when the director imagines that a gren throws people high in the air and some figures go cartwheeling past the camera.
But still, it pays the stuntman' wages, eh ?

Rising Sun*
05-06-2009, 07:27 AM
OK, so I'm quite happy to accept that grenades aren't nearly as lethal as they're cracked up to be (probably a good thing as the only ones I've handled are the Chorley ones, and I'm crap at throwing them!).
What I'm struggling to understand however is why such use was made of "bombing parties", with the riflemen being assigned to support the bombers. Was it simply the impressive bang and the psychological effect?

What about the effect within a trench, where the blast and shrapnel are partly contained and directed by the walls?

Which also relates to the psychological effect, if you're one of the blokes in the trench.

Cuts
05-06-2009, 07:43 AM
OK, so I'm quite happy to accept that grenades aren't nearly as lethal as they're cracked up to be (probably a good thing as the only ones I've handled are the Chorley ones, and I'm crap at throwing them!).

Ah Chorley gens, the blue eggs that bounce right back at you ! :D

The Germans found when prac stick grens were exchanged for live ones some soldiers reacted unpredictably. Some dropped the item, others were unable to release them - neither a recipe for a long and comfortable senectitude.
To find out the freaker before they blew their own mind the final stage of instruction was carried out with a sheet metal gren painted and weighted like a live one. There were no holes like the inert trg grens had, just an opening in the top cover which was closed over until a small pyro charge went off.

Because of this device many Germans never had to pick their nose with their elbow. ;)



What I'm struggling to understand however is why such use was made of "bombing parties", with the riflemen being assigned to support the bombers. Was it simply the impressive bang and the psychological effect?

I imagine it was probably because of the blast effect. In much the same way as flash-bangs are used on back ops, while the enemy was disorientated they could be dealt with by the rfn.
Any wounded not taken prisoner would be sorted by their own tampax tiffies and evacuated for recovery, making it difficult for the attacking force to accurately assess the number of en killed.

Uyraell
05-06-2009, 08:08 AM
I'm no ordnance expert, but I'd hazard the guess the bomber-parties were to make certain the defending troops kept their heads down for long-enough for the mop-up parties to take possession of the trench segment and its' occupants.

The knowledge that grenades were in use would make the defending troops tend to think of preserving life and limb first, and as such, ensure (at least in theory) a task made slightly easier for the attacking soldiery. Thus, the defenders, in seeking cover and preserving themselves unwounded would be less capable of defending their alloted segment of trench against the incoming attack/raid.

Similarly, the use of a Flame-Thrower would tend to make the defending troops either retreat or evacuate that segment of trench, in preference to being cooked where they stood.

It follows that once control had been gained over one section of trench, the raiding troops could spread along the trench complex and capture further elements and segments, thus allowing mop-up parties and investment parties to hold the newly won segment as the attack progressed further.

My grandfather told my dad of having been on a couple such trench raids, though those did not go according to plan, (what Military endeavour ever does or has?) they were nonetheless moderately successful if bloody affairs.

Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

TheBeam
05-06-2009, 02:52 PM
Great post on the effectiveness of grenades. However, the reason why I thought the casualty numbers were low is exactly the fact that they were primarily used in confined spaces...for clearing out dugouts. Most of the reports I've read where grenades were mentioned refers to throwing grenades into dugouts -- and the reports all seem to mention that this was used to great effect.

Night raiding parties would also typically leap into enemy trenches and throw grenades into enemy dugouts in large numbers...and then head home asap.

The dugouts themselves would be packed with men as these were their sleeping quarters and where they took shelter from artillery. Essentially small rooms with low ceilings. So throwing a grenade into one always seemed the ideal way to use a grenade. (Of course, it's not as ideal as a pillbox, where fragments could ricochet off the hard walls...instead of being absorbed by the mud.)

I've seen the official Royal Engineer's guide for building dugouts and they all have a 'grenade pit' at the bottom of the dugout stairs to catch grenades that were thrown down into the dugout and make them explode harmlessly in the narrow earth slit trench. They would also angle the floors so grenades would roll into these grenade puts. But raiders would often go down the stairs far enough to toss a grenade directly in the dugout door. And I can't see this being completely ineffective, even using poor quality grenades.

Speaking of, I have read several accounts of German potato masher grenades exploding a few feet from a soldier and aside from the concussion, not damaging the soldier at all.

So I still think the grenade numbers should be higher. And hopefully the newly found Red Cross archives from WWI (that Rising Sun brought to my attention) will shed some light on the real effectiveness of grenades.

Also, grenades were pretty damn common later on in the war, with German stormtroopers all having two burlap sacks filled with grenades for bombing the hell out of enemy trenches.

I'm trying to think of a grenade question:

Where were grenades most effective in WWI?
a) throwing at enemy machine gunners
b) throwing them into enemy trenches before bayonet charges
c) thrown out of trenches at attacking troops who are in the open
d) thrown into underground dugouts in night raids or assaults where troops were still sheltering from artillery

(d)

However, I'm not 100% sure on this answer ;)

Rising Sun*
05-06-2009, 10:40 PM
What I'm struggling to understand however is why such use was made of "bombing parties", with the riflemen being assigned to support the bombers. Was it simply the impressive bang and the psychological effect?

Bombs can reach into trenches, but bullets can't. So the bombers are the primary troops for a trench assault but they can't bomb and fire rifles at the same time ,so they need rifle support to suppress the trenchmen on the approach?

pdf27
05-07-2009, 02:40 AM
Bombs can reach into trenches, but bullets can't. So the bombers are the primary troops for a trench assault but they can't bomb and fire rifles at the same time ,so they need rifle support to suppress the trenchmen on the approach?
Except that they clearly weren't the primary weapon from the data, with small arms causing about 10 times the number of casualties...

Rising Sun*
05-07-2009, 03:25 AM
Except that they clearly weren't the primary weapon from the data, with small arms causing about 10 times the number of casualties...

Is that all casualties during the war or just casualties from trench raids by bombing parties?

If the former, the sheer scale of the major assaults, which undoubtedly involved much more small arms than grenade activity by the defenders alone, would explain the disparity. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the same proportion of small arms / grenade wounds occurred in trench raids.

Cuts
05-16-2009, 08:27 AM
Great post on the effectiveness of grenades. However, the reason why I thought the casualty numbers were low is exactly the fact that they were primarily used in confined spaces...for clearing out dugouts.
:confused:
I've never heard that that was the primary use of grens, but then I may have been concetrating on other aspects.
Do you have any sources ?



Most of the reports I've read where grenades were mentioned refers to throwing grenades into dugouts -- and the reports all seem to mention that this was used to great effect.

If these reports stem from trench raids, there would have been great difficulty in ascertaining precise casreps, and after any successful contact in enemy territory getting an accurate number of en killed or wounded from own troops is fraught with problems, even more so at night.

"It must be realised by all ranks that the rifle and bayonet is the main infantry weapon. Grenades are useful for clearing small lengths of trench and for close fighting after a trench had been rushed; but no great or rapid progress will ever be made by bombing, and an assault across the open after adequate preparation will usually be a quicker and in the long run less costly operation than bombing attacks on a large scale."
From 'Preliminary Notes on the Tactical Lessons of Recent Operations.' July 1916.



Night raiding parties would also typically leap into enemy trenches and throw grenades
into enemy dugouts in large numbers...and then head home asap.

That would depend entirely on the purpose of the patrol.



The dugouts themselves would be packed with men as these were their sleeping quarters and where they took shelter from artillery. Essentially small rooms with low ceilings. So throwing a grenade into one always seemed the ideal way to use a grenade. (Of course, it's not as ideal as a pillbox, where fragments could ricochet off the hard walls...instead of being absorbed by the mud.)

I've seen the official Royal Engineer's guide for building dugouts and they all have a 'grenade pit' at the bottom of the dugout stairs to catch grenades that were thrown down into the dugout and make them explode harmlessly in the narrow earth slit trench. They would also angle the floors so grenades would roll into these grenade puts.
But raiders would often go down the stairs far enough to toss a grenade directly in the dugout door. And I can't see this being completely ineffective, even using poor quality grenades.

In larger bunkers there would have been beds and other furniture which all slow or stop fragments. There used to be a British Army trg film on the effects of wpns, (I forget the title at the moment,) in which it was shown that fragments from the L2 gren (M26 type,) were stopped by a cheap sofa.
Many German bunkers were generally much bigger than those of the Allies, some holding hundreds of men, they were also of a far more sturdy construction; often cladded concrete. Their larger size would lessen the concussive effect and again the furniture and partitioning would hinder range and velocity of the fragments.



Speaking of, I have read several accounts of German potato masher grenades exploding a few feet from a soldier and aside from the concussion, not damaging the soldier at all.
See comment below.



So I still think the grenade numbers should be higher. And hopefully the newly found Red Cross archives from WWI (that Rising Sun brought to my attention) will shed some light on the real effectiveness of grenades.
I too look forward to reading them with interest, especially if they detail the types of wounds suffered by both the killed and the wounded.
But I don't think there will be any significant change in the cas ratio as the actual effectivity of grens to kill and wound* has been established, the relevant laws of physics and chemistry haven't altered an awful lot.
* As opposed to the overall effectiveness of a weapon.



Also, grenades were pretty damn common later on in the war, with German stormtroopers all having two burlap sacks filled with grenades for bombing the hell out of enemy trenches.
That the Sturmtruppen were issued with a higher proportion of grens does not necessarily equate to many men being killed by these wpns.
As pointed out earlier, everyone was issued with a bayonet but not all used them in anger.
By 1915 stick grenades were of a uniform weight to facilitate consistent accuracy by the grenadier, but their construction was now single-walled and relied on the one millimetre casing for fragmentation so may be considered by many as a fairly powerful concussion gren. See your comment earlier about the effects of the grens.
The claims of a fifteen metre danger area seem feasible although I do not have the curves to hand, I'll try to dig them out.
Note that this is the danger radius rather than the lethal radius.



I'm trying to think of a grenade question:

Where were grenades most effective in WWI?
a) throwing at enemy machine gunners
b) throwing them into enemy trenches before bayonet charges
c) thrown out of trenches at attacking troops who are in the open
d) thrown into underground dugouts in night raids or assaults where troops were still sheltering from artillery

(d)

However, I'm not 100% sure on this answer ;)

Drop me a line, I'm sure we can come up with something accurate.