Much of the fighting in the First World War was dominated by the artillery, with the big guns expected to blast a way through enemy wire, destroy fortifications or break up attacks. This book looks at the way in which the use of artillery changed during the war, and the way in which each combatant adapted their tactics to deal with changes in their opponents behaviour.
Perhaps the biggest surprise here is the complexity of artillery tactics – the impression one tends to get from more general histories of the Great War is that most effort went into simply increasing the amount of guns and availability of ammo, but that clearly wasn’t the case. At the start of the war each army had different expectations of the way artillery would work on the modern battlefield (not always backed up with the type of guns that theory would require), but very of the early expectations proved to be accurate. As the war progressed the artillerymen on both sides had to try and find ways both to defend against enemy attacks and to support their own troops when they went onto the offensive. The increasing range of artillery meant that the number of possible targets was vast, including the enemy trench systems, enemy artillery batteries and targets behind the front lines such as the massive transport systems needed to support the front line or to move reinforcements to a threatened area.
This is a fascinating read, and a very valuable book, looking at a crucial but often neglected aspect of the First World War (not least by the inter-war armies, which had to painfully relearn the lessons of 1917-18 during the Second World War).
Prologue: Le Cateau
1 - 1914
2 - 1915
3 - 1916
4 - 1917
5 - 1918
Author: Paul Strong and Sanders Marble
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military