The Hellish Weaponry of the Great War

WWI devastation

The beginning of World War I brought never before seen weapons and technology. These advances brought a level of destruction that made battlefields unliveable. Some advances, like aircraft and tanks, were useful, while others were rather scary.

The Shotgun

Shotguns were brought to the fight by the Americans. The introduction of this weapon really threw off the Germans. The gun they mainly used was a Winchester M1897 Trench Grade shotgun. It had a 20″ barrel, a bayonet lug, and a heat shield.

It held six shells and was referred to as the “trench broom” or “trench sweeper.” The gun clearly was serving its purpose. However, the Germans were not thrilled with this development.

They were so upset they filed a diplomatic protest, stating it should be outlawed. The Germans also said any Americans who had one upon capture would be punished. But, of course, their protest was rejected.


In 1915, the Germans developed and used a portable flamethrower. But, for the most part, the mere idea of burning alive scared men out of the trenches and into the path of rifles and machine guns.

The men carrying the flamethrowers soon found a target on their backs. They would be shot immediately. If one was captured, they were executed.

The Germans weren’t the only ones who had flamethrowers, though. The British had the Livens Large Galley Flame Projector. It was a stationary machine that shot flames out 300 feet.

Poison Gas

Out of all the new weapons, the scariest was poison gas. There were three types, mustard gas, chlorine, and phosgene. The Germans were the first to use it.

At Ypres, they used it to attack the French. Then everyone began to develop poison gas. Gas was used to force troops out of their strongholds and into the open. However, it also had the potential to kill massive amounts of people.

Out of the three, mustard gas was the most irritating. It irritated soldiers’ throats, eyes, and lungs. It also left blisters on the skin.




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