Did you know that women fought in World War I? Did you know that British tanks were equipped with heavy machine guns, but German tanks were outfitted with cannons? Or that the Germans intercepted and decoded codes sent by the Allies? These fascinating facts will give you a better appreciation of this bloody conflict and the men who fought there.
Women fought in World War I
For the first time in American history, women were officially attached to the military in World War I. The Army Nurse Corps, Navy, and Marine Corps all had women as part of their ranks. A group of 223 women, known as “Hello Girls,” served as long-distance switchboard operators for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. The women’s contributions to the war were so widespread that they were recognized as veterans.
The participation of women in the war is largely overlooked in favor of the men. As a result, they were forced to disguise their gender in order to serve. Although they were often dismissed from service in Britain and France, they served openly in many other nations. Despite this, some women protested the war and attempted to persuade world leaders to put an end to the conflict. The International Congress of Women, for instance, held the Women’s Peace Congress in 1916 and more than a thousand women participated.
Russian general Alexei Brusilov solved the conundrum
In 1916, the Russian general Alexei Brusilow solved the conundrum of World War I by launching a massive offensive against Austria. He also coordinated with the British to attack the Somme. This maneuver proved a critical success for the Allies because it forced the Austrians to abandon their offensive in northern Italy. However, it had some drawbacks. First, it was too difficult for the Allies to supply the enormous number of men that were required to win the battle.
Brusilov’s military career began early, when he enrolled in the Page Corps. The Page Corps is the most elite military institution in Imperial Russia, and he graduated in 1872. His early career included service in the Russian Cavalry and the Russo-Turkish War, during which he distinguished himself during the capture of Kars and Ardhan. Brusilov later became a general and led the Russian Eighth Army in Galicia.
Germans intercepted and decoded codes from the Allies
The Enigma code was used by the Germans to communicate with their allies during World War I. It was the result of a complex mathematical process in which a message encoding data would be decoded by a machine to produce a different message. The Germans used a special decoder called Enigma to send the message. It was developed at Bletchley Park in England, which was responsible for interpreting signals sent to and from the U-boats.
As a result of the Enigma machine, the British and French were able to identify two-thirds of the enemy’s divisions through their radio communications. The British and French also set up a global radio listening post, known as a Y Station. This allowed them to decode messages sent by German troops, which could be used to attack allies.
British tanks carried cannons whereas female tanks contained heavy machine guns
During the war, the British used tanks as part of their overall strategy. Male tanks were often equipped with cannons, while females were equipped with heavy machine guns. French tanks, however, were designed by inexperienced army officers. Their hulls were overhanging, and they were ill-suited for crossing trenches. Furthermore, they had very poor mobility. As a result, they were often withdrawn after an engagement.
During World War I, the Germans used cannons on their male counterparts, but their first attempt at an attack was a disaster. Their first attempt to attack the French was unfruitful: they concentrated 10 guns per kilometer of front line. They then commenced the so-called “wolf pit” tactics, finishing off infantry with armour-piercing bullets. As a result, their tanks were soon put out of service. By 1917, they had only ten tanks left to do battle, and most of them were destroyed or damaged. Many of those who survived were left with nervous breakdowns and PTSD.
African Americans served in World War I
Although there was open bias against black soldiers during the World War I era, there were a few instances where African American troops proved themselves in combat. The majority of Black troops served in labor positions or pioneer infantry units, and only a small number were involved in actual combat. This situation increased racial tension in the U.S., which was a major concern for many white soldiers. Fortunately, a small number of black troops did prove their worth in combat, and by the end of the war, the 93rd Infantry Division became the first African American division in combat.
In addition to fighting in the war, Black soldiers were able to participate in social dancing as a result of their service. A band, led by a musician named James Reese, made the regiment’s music wildly popular. The men of the 369th Infantry even helped introduce Europe to jazz and ragtime. Noble Sissle, a member of the band in the war and in peace, wrote a biography on the subject. The book also includes information about the racial climate in the U.S. and France at the time.