This site may load slightly slowly at times because of the numerous images. Reload page if some images do not appear.

World War One Images (Life)(LARGE IMAGES)


World War One was waiting to happen. The latent German aggressive nationalism, the competition amongst big European powers for colonial possessions, the raw French wound of losing Alsace and Lorraine in 1870.

But what is most striking is that it was led by mostly incompetent leaders, both political and military. They failed to understand that war was changing. Old tactics and thinking would not work. Hence the senseless sending of soldiers in the trenches to be mowed down by enemy machine guns.


Below is a montage of large pictures from World War One.

The British were the first to make and use tanks


On 28 June 1900 the Archduke Franz Ferdinand married Countess Sophie Chotek. It was a subdued, sad ceremony. The Archduke was heir to the Monarchy of the Habsburgs; he stood next in succession as Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, and much beside. Sophie Chotek was a mere countess; she did not come within the permitted degrees for an imperial Habsburg marriage. Franz Ferdinand had to sign away the rights of any children born of the marriage. His wife did not become an archduchess or an imperial highness. Many devout monarchists felt that this augured ill for the Habsburg dynasty. None foresaw that Franz Ferdinand, on this wedding day, had fixed the date of his death, still less that this would lead to the deaths of many million others. For this wedding day ultimately set the fuse to the First World War.

Franz Ferdinand was a brutal and obstinate man, impatient with opposition, unsuited to a democratic age. He had one redeeming feature: he loved his wife. It irked him that she could never share his splendours, could never even sit by his side on any public occasion. There was one loophole. The Archduke was a field marshal and Inspector General of the Austro-Hungarian army. His wife could enjoy the recognition of his rank when he was acting in a military capacity. Hence he decided, in 1914, to inspect the army in Bosnia. There at its capital Sarajevo, the Archduke and his wife could ride in an open carriage side by side on 28 June – the anniversary of their wedding day. Thus, for love, did the Archduke go to his death.

Bosnia and its sister province, Hercegovina, were recent Habsburg acquisitions. Formerly Turkish and the scene of many rebellions, they had been administered by Austria-Hungary since 1878, annexed only in 1908. The inhabitants were southern Slavs, Serbs or Croats, many of them – especially the younger ones – resentful at having been brought under the Habsburgs instead of being allowed to join Serbia, their national state. Romantic young men conspired together, made attempts (unsuccessful) to assassinate Habsburg officials. When the Archduke’s visit was announced, half a dozen grammar-school boys decided to have a shot at him. They received encouragement, and some crude weapons, from a Serb secret society. Its head, the mysterious Apis, was more concerned to embarrass his own government than to kill the Archduke. Apis made many plots. None of them came off until this one.

Even this success was chance. On 28 June the Archduke and his wife duly drove into Sarajevo. One young conspirator failed to draw his revolver; another felt sorry for the Archduke’s wife and went home; a third threw his bomb, and missed. The Archduke reached the town hall. He was now angry: his wife’s treat had been spoilt. He decided to drive straight out of town. But his chauffeur was not told. He took the wrong turning, then stopped the car and reversed. Gavrilo Princip, one of the schoolboys, saw before him, to his amazement, the stationary car. He stepped on to the running-board; killed the Archduke with one shot; aimed at an escort in the front seat and hit the Archduke’s wife, sitting in the back, with a second. She, too, died almost immediately. Such was the assassination at Sarajevo.


Every Continental Power mobilized millions of men. In all, some six million went into the first battles – men doing their active service or recently sent to the reserve. Their commanders were elderly men who knew war only in the study or on manoeuvres. The supreme commanders – Joffre in France, Moltke in Germany, Conrad in Austria-Hungary, Grand Duke Nicholas in Russia – owed their position to favouritism or some twist of politics rather than to ability. The successful commander was the one who kept his nerve and refused to be shaken by the death and suffering inflicted on his orders. Few of the generals had heard a shot fired in anger; and they did not much increase their experience during the war – they remained far behind their armies at headquarters, drawing lines on maps, barking out orders over the telephone and surrounded by a sycophantic staff. The British generals had seen real lighting in the Boer War; that was a war of movement over vast spaces against an unseen enemy, a war of cavalry, and most British generals were cavalry men. Horses were everywhere. 

The Russian army in 1916


Schlieffen had not only laid down that the war must be won in the west. He had also directed how it was to be won. The short frontier between France and Germany was heavily fortified on both sides – no chance for a quick victory here. To the north of it lay Belgium, making a sort of funnel through which German armies could pass, then flood out beyond the French armies and encircle them. Schlieffen called this ‘Cannae’ – apparently forgetting that the victor of Cannae came ultimately to disaster. This was the Schlieffen plan – the only plan for war the Germans had.

As the Germans swung round into France, there appeared the great, the insuperable, flaw in Schlieffen’s plan. This flaw was Paris. If Kluck’s army on the extreme German right went west of Paris, there would be a great gap between it and Bülow’s army which came next in line; if Kluck went east of Paris, he could be attacked on the flank. Schlieffen had foreseen this flaw, and had failed to suggest means of overcoming it.



One Great Power remained virtuously aloof. Though a few Americans sympathized warmly with the Allied cause, most were firm for neutrality. The ancestors of these Americans had, after all, left Europe so as not to be involved in European affairs; they saw no reason to go back now. Many were of German stock. The Irish in America, unaffected by the wave of enthusiasm for the war which was sweeping Ireland, were vocal against supporting the British oppressor of their old country. President Wilson, from the first, cast himself in the role of peacemaker. Not merely could a neutral mediate between the warring states. She could, Wilson thought, impose generous terms upon them when they were sufficiently exhausted; terms which would ensure a lasting peace and which the undiminished strength of the United States would guarantee. Meanwhile the Americans combined virtue and profit. They grew rich, supplying Allied needs; at the same time, they had a firm conviction that they were following the best course for the future of the world in the long run.

American artillery spotter checking range of his units shells during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, World War I.


Russia of course had always unlimited manpower. Her trouble was that she had little to equip them with. As early as December 1914 Grand Duke Nicholas, the Russian commander, warned his allies that the Russian armies were incapable of further offensive action. 

Shortage of material did not hit only Russia; all the belligerents were affected by it. Here too, plans had been laid only for a short war: the armies, it was assumed, would win (or lose) with the equipment which they possessed at the beginning. Now not only had the armies to be equipped anew, but far more had to be provided. The armies were bigger than had been expected, and their needs greater. The First World War was, in some ways, much greedier of munitions than the Second – not in machines, tanks, and aeroplanes, but in guns and shells. The barrage, growing ever heavier and more prolonged, became the outstanding feature of the First World War. Factories sprang up all over Europe solely to feed it.

This demanded little short of an industrial revolution. New industries, and with them a new economic system, had to be created almost overnight. Workers were persuaded, or compelled, to change their jobs and to relax their peacetime standards. Employers worked to government order. The French did best with this; they had a tradition of economy planned for war which went back to Napoleon. 

The Germans took longer to get going, but then acted to greater effect. The inspiration for the new system came largely from Walter Rathenau, a great capitalist of Jewish origin; without him, Germany could hardly have carried on the war at all. The war brought also new social problems: problems of welfare for the soldiers and munition workers; problems of maintaining the wives and families of the absent soldiers; above all the terrible problem of ‘profiteering’. Inevitably, huge profits were made in the helter-skelter of wartime production and rising prices; inevitably also, this caused a rising discontent, which in the end reached the point of revolution in many European countries. 

The profiteer, in his top hat, drinking champagne while men died, became the dominant symbol in revolutionary propaganda. Little was done to stave him off. None of the belligerents tried to pay for the war out of taxation. Some, including Germany, even reduced taxes in order to alleviate the hardships of war. Ultimately, it was assumed, the enemy would pay. Meanwhile there were appeals for patriotic War Loans. In Germany anyone subscribing to these loans could hammer a nail into a huge wooden statue of Hindenburg.

American troops move trough a forest destroyed by artillery in 1918

 The Germans announced the immediate introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare. All shipping, including neutral, would be sunk at sight in the war zone of the eastern Atlantic. On 2 February President Wilson broke off relations with Germany. He still hoped to avoid entering the war, and so be free to offer himself again as impartial mediator. The Germans wilfully destroyed his hope. Their submarines at once sank American ships. 

Zimmermann, the German Secretary of State, completed the process by a bright idea such as only a Foreign Office could conceive. He offered to help Mexico in a war for the recovery of New Mexico and other territory which the Americans had seized many years before. Of course, Germany had no means of providing help, and the Mexicans no intention of going to war. The offer was pure fantasy. The British Secret Service intercepted the telegram, and broke its code. They prompted the Americans to bribe a clerk in the German legation at Mexico City. He revealed the text of the message. The Zimmermann telegram was published in the American papers. This gave the final push. 

On 6 April the United States declared war on Germany. Wilson lamented to the last. He said: ‘It means that we shall lose our heads along with the rest and stop weighing right and wrong.’ He spoke truly. The Americans had been the most reluctant to enter the war. Once in, they became the most ruthless and intolerant. Critics and doubters were persecuted. Since the security of America was not endangered, the Americans had to treat the war exclusively as a moral crusade. They insisted more strongly than anyone else that they were entirely in the right and the Germans entirely in the wrong. 

Yet Wilson, at any rate, had also doubts about the morality of the Allies. He refused to tie himself to them; and the United States remained throughout only an Associated Power.


America’s entry brought limitless resources to the Allied side, but only in a comparatively distant future. The United States had a great navy. They had virtually no army. Millions of men had to be conscripted and trained. There were few munition factories. Tanks, guns, and even rifles had to be supplied by the British and French, not the other way round. No American tanks, and hardly any American aeroplanes, ever reached the Western Front. The Allies now received a new flood of American credit – technically in loans which were to be repaid after the war. But it was hard to spend the money: the Americans needed all their resources for themselves. Thus, America’s entry into the war brought at first handicaps, not immediate aid. It was a promissory note for the future, provided that the Allies held on until it could be cashed.


Verdun was at the head of an awkward and useless salient in the French line; from any detached point of view the French position would have been stronger without it. Nor was it any longer a fortress. The rapid fall of Liège and of Namur at the beginning of the war had convinced Joffre that fortresses were useless; and Verdun had been stripped of its guns. The French people did not know this. For them Verdun was still a cornerstone of their defence, barring the road against the Germans. 

Joffre had ample warning that Verdun was to be attacked, ample warning also that its defences were in a bad state. There was not even a second line of trenches. In Paris, deputies back from the front raised the alarm in the Chamber. Gallieni, now Minister of War, inquired of Joffre what truth there was in these reports. Joffre replied by demanding the names of the informants, so that they could be punished. Nothing was done to strengthen Verdun. On 21 February 1916 a fourteen-inch shell exploded in the Archbishop’s Palace at Verdun. It was the signal for the German attack, and the first of the tremendous bombardments which were to characterize 1916. The French line was battered by a weight of metal such as the world had never known before. The French defences east of the Meuse began to sag. Joffre sent little aid. He refused to take the German attack seriously. In any case, he would not allow it to interfere with the preparations for his own attack on the Somme later.

Briand, the French Prime Minister, was less calm. He had protected Joffre from criticism in the Chamber. He appreciated clearly that the fall of Verdun would be followed by the fall of his Government. On the evening of 24 February Briand motored to Chantilly. Joffre was already in bed asleep. Briand insisted on his being pulled out of bed – for the only time in the war. 

Staff officers tried to explain that Verdun was of no importance; indeed they would be glad to be rid of it. Briand, usually so conciliatory, lost his temper. He shouted: You may not think losing Verdun a defeat, but everyone else will. If you surrender Verdun, you will be cowards, cowards, and I’ll sack the lot of you.’ Joffre, still apparently half-asleep, let the storm blow on his subordinates. Then, opening his eyes, he said softly: ‘The Prime Minister is right. I agree with him. No retreat at Verdun. We fight to the end.’ A strange scene. Joffre had been on the point of making a sensible decision for the first time. The political chief intervened, again for the first time; and Joffre made the wrong one.

The defence of Verdun shattered the French fighting spirit, and brought it to the verge of mutiny. So far Falkenhayn’s calculation proved successful. But the Germans, too, paid a heavy price. Just as it was impossible to convince French opinion that Verdun was not worth saving, so it soon became impossible to convince German opinion that Verdun was not worth taking. The Germans imagined that they were fighting for a great prize, and ceased to count the cost. The German Crown Prince theoretically commanded the armies attacking Verdun; he wanted a dazzling success for the sake of imperial prestige. In vain Falkenhayn preached economy and the slaughter of Frenchmen by artillery fire. German troops, too, were soon being fed ruthlessly into the cauldron of destruction. German casualties mounted; those of the French grew relatively less. By the end of June, when the fighting died away, the French had lost 315,000 casualties, the Germans 281,000. This was the only offensive on the Western Front where the offensive cost less than the defence; it cost plenty all the same.


It is often claimed that the British offensive on the Somme was launched in order to relieve Verdun. This is not true. The attacks at Verdun had stopped before the British offensive started, though the preparations for this offensive may have helped to stop them. The essential motive for the offensive on the Somme was quite other. Haig had come to believe that here was the spot where the war could be won. This belief was not shared by Sir William Robertson, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. However, being junior to Haig in the army list, he loyally conformed to Haig’s enthusiasm. The belief was not shared by Joffre; he had faith only in attrition, the more so on the Somme in that the British would pay the price on the Allied side. The belief was not shared by Rawlinson, the army commander in charge of the offensive; he, too, stifled his doubts and then, with equal rigidity, stifled the doubts of his own subordinates. The ordinary British soldiers, most of whom had no experience of previous fighting, imagined that they were about to win a great victory. This unreasoning faith was the link which bound them to Haig, the Commander-in-Chief whom they never saw.

Strategically, the battle of the Somme was an unredeemed defeat. It is supposed to have worn down the spirit of the German army. So no doubt it did, though not to the point of crippling that army as a fighting machine. The German spirit was not the only one to suffer. The British were worn down also. Idealism perished on the Somme. The enthusiastic volunteers were enthusiastic no longer. They had lost faith in their cause, in their leaders, in everything except loyalty to their fighting comrades. The war ceased to have a purpose. It went on for its own sake, as a contest in endurance.

The Somme set the picture by which future generations saw the First World War: brave helpless soldiers; blundering obstinate generals; nothing achieved. 


What purpose? None. 

The British line stuck out in a sharper and more awkward salient than before the battle began. All the trivial gains were abandoned without a fight in order to shorten the line when the Germans attacked in the following year. The British casualties were something over 300,000; the German under 200,000 – a proportion slightly better than on the Somme. Thirty years later, the British official history turned these figures round: British losses, 250,000; German 400,000.

Passchendaele was the last battle in the old style, though no one knew this at the time. Even the generals at last realized that something had gone wrong. On 8 November Haig’s Chief-of-Staff visited the fighting zone for the first time. As his car struggled through the mud, he burst into tears, and cried: ‘Good God, did we really send men to fight in that?’ His companion replied: ‘It’s worse further up.’ Haig alone was undismayed. 


The Germans had one other device which turned out the most dangerous of the lot. This was the U-boat or submarine. Here again its use had not been foreseen. Both German and British admirals thought of the submarine as an auxiliary to the main fleet, acting as scout or perhaps embarrassing the battleships. They did not suppose that it would be used against merchant ships.

The German U-boats, along with the rest of their fleet, had a short cruising range. They could not keep up a blockade of the British Isles for long, particularly when the Straits of Dover were closed against them and they had to go round the north of Scotland.

The U-boats were the best propaganda for bringing the United States into the war on the Allied side. Some of the German leaders realized this, or at least Bethmann did so; they also appreciated that in 1915 they had too few U-boats to produce any decisive effect. They therefore offered to stop the U-boat war if the British would relax their blockade. The British refused. Later, after drowning more neutral Americans, the Germans limited the U-boat campaign all the same. But the damage had been done. Bethmann had to plead again, as he had done over the invasion of Belgium: ‘Necessity knows no law.’ Every Great Power acted on this principle, the Allies as much as the Germans. But the Allies, and particularly the British, managed to give the impression that they acted brutally or unscrupulously with regret; the Germans always looked as though they were enjoying it.

The Germans did not have enough U-Boats to make it an effective game-changer in the Great War.


This quaint contraption is the Garford-Putilov Armored car made by the Russians during the First World War.

Garford-Putilov armoured cars were a type of armoured fighting vehicle produced in Russia during the First World War era. They were built on the frames of Garford Motor Truck Co. lorries imported from the United States.

Although considered to be a rugged and reliable machine by its users, the Garford-Putilov was severely underpowered. With a total weight of about 11 tons, and only a 30 hp engine, the vehicles had a top speed of approximately 10–11 mph (16–18 km/h). The design was also overloaded (top-heavy), and therefore had very limited (if any) off-road capability.

Besides the countries that emerged from the ruins of the old Russian Empire, Garford-Putilov armoured cars were also deployed by German forces. The Germans captured several of the vehicles, and put them to some use towards the end of World War I, and post-Armistice in the "Freikorps".


Causes Of World War One


Worth A Read.

The book is different from the plethora of books on the Great War because of the author. He is honest, brutally so. He never flinches from calling a spade a spade. It gives us an unbiased view of the war, the stupidity of the leaders and the senseless killing of soldiers for an advance of a half mile a mile. The horror and utter inanity of trench warfare.

"There was another conceivable way of breaking the deadlock even if strategy failed. This was the invention of new methods or new weapons. The generals made no contribution here, or rather made the wrong one. Their only novelty was to blast a hole in the enemy lines by weight of bombardment; hence they demanded more and more guns and shells. They did not appreciate that this bombardment would so churn up the ground that the advance of the infantry after it would be slower than ever. Civilians and junior officers did better. In England ingenious minds devised a sort of armoured tractor, named – for reasons of security – the tank. It was not ready until 1917, though a few appeared in the Somme in 1916; and the generals used it wrongly. Scientists were already producing poison gas; and this was used by the Germans at Ypres on 22 April 1915. It had an initial success. Then, as each side acquired gas masks, the result was to increase the handicaps on the infantry, and so to slow things down further. Apparently no one had reflected that the attackers would have to wear masks against their own gas as soon as they advanced."

Search This Site

Popular Articles On This Site

History In Pictures On......

facebook history images ictures
plus google history pictures
Pinterest history in pictures
Twitter History Pictures

Pictorial History