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Photo credit : Hindenburg Line Museum. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited

WAR WITNESS

Great war 1914-1918 virtual Exibition

Musée Ligne Hindenburg - Hindenburg Line Museum

Sometimes improperly called "trench" craftsmanship because they can be made by soldiers between two offensives, but just as often by prisoners, civilians (war wounded for example) or industrialists and not necessarily in the trenches themselves, and sometimes some objects are even post-war. Nevertheless, many soldiers did kill time by producing objects with materials from the field.
Here, a wooden, sheet metal and copper wire model (approximate scale 1/20th) presumed to be from a Nieuport.
The Nieuport, a single-seater biplane fighter, and entered into action in the French air force in 1916, it is known to have stopped the hecatomb inflicted by the Fokkers of the German army thanks to its speed (155km/h -110hp) and its good manoeuvrability. Among others, the Aces Georges Guynemer and Charles Nungesser flew on this aircraft.
The copper sheet used for this model (wings) most probably comes from shell casings which are widely used as raw material for trench art. They are still very often found today, carved or chiselled, thundering on the edges of grandparents' chimneys ...

Will be shown in "civilian - at rest" section

Trench craftsmanship - French aircraft model Nieuport

Helmet with Prussian reservist tip. Black patent boiled leather and brass attributes. The front plate here depicts the Prussian eagle surmounted by a white metal Maltese cross which characterises the reserve troops. In 1914, the reservists reinforced the 50 divisions that made up the German army in peacetime, increasing to 105 divisions in August 1914. The emblematic tip of this helmet serves as a ventilator on the one hand and is supposed to deflect the sword blows to the head. Very conspicuous and not very protective, it was quickly covered with a canvas helmet cover to hide the reflections, and was definitively replaced by the stahlhelm (steel helmet) in 1916 protecting its wearer much better against shrapnel and other miscellaneous projectiles.
The spikehelmet (Pickelhaube) was worn by the Prussian troops even before the War of 1870, and was widely used as a symbol, particularly by the propaganda of all nations.
Even if the spiked helmet is directly associated with the German army, it is important to note that it was not only used by the Germans (British, few American countries) and still today of course as far as ceremonial uniforms are concerned.

Exposed in "german advance - occupation 1914-1915" section

Prussian reservist spike helmet  Model 1895
1902 pattern Service dress tunic - Canada

Khaki woollen canvas tunic equipping British troops and more widely the great majority of Commonwealth troops (except for officers, Scottish kilted troops, or Australian troops for example). Here this example, made in Montreal, wears the attributes of the Canadian troops. This tunic will be used throughout the conflict without major modification. And, unlike the French uniforms, for example, it was adapted to the conditions imposed by the modern battles of the First World War, particularly thanks to the khaki colour inherited from colonial experiences. This model underwent some minor modifications in 1922 for (minority) use during the Second World War. In combat, as far as officers were concerned, in order to better mingle with the troops during assaults, and thus avoid being targeted first, they were allowed to wear this tunic instead of or over the effects normally reserved for their rank (tunic in a different fabric, sometimes in a lighter shade and with a totally different cut, very visible grades at the front of the sleeves which will then be moved to the shoulders for greater discretion).
Khaki wool, cotton lining, brass buttons, Canadian brass attributes.

Will be shown on "Hundred days of Canada August-September 1918" section

So that impatient visitors can finally enjoy some of the items before our opening, which won't be open for some time, and also because the world health situation slows down our project considerably, we have decided to share with you some of the items in the collections as they are donated and restored, or put into inventory. You will see, sometimes rare and highly prized by collectors or relatively common, in perfect condition or wrecked from the field, military or civilian, leather or metal object or simple document... it doesn't matter! they all have their history in connection with the War of 14! We propose you to discover it here, at will, in this modest virtual exhibition dedicated to the Great War.

Info : Please note that following the theft of one of our member's photo equipment, the uploading of new pieces is highly disturbed.

Navy wool, black fine cloth lining, red and white checkerboard, leather border, small red wool tassel (toory).

A kind of cap which would have appeared at the end of the 18th century, traditional headgear of the Scottish troops (kilted or not). Worn in battle until the arrival of the Brodie helmet in 1915. It is not the only headgear, of course there is the Brodie Helmet (named after its inventor John Brodie) but also the Tam o'shanter or the Balmoral (kind of beret). The particularity of this glengarry is the red and white checkerboard stripe that runs around it, specific to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (A&SH) regiment. It symbolises the 'thin red line', a representation of a heroic defensive cordon put in place by the troops of the 93rd Sutherland Hinglanders (later the A&SH) to repel the Russian cavalry at the Battle of Balaclava (Crimean War - 1854). The red tunic of the defenders is symbolised in this chequered form. Usually, for military use (also used in civilian use) the regimental badge (capbadge) is found on the glengarry but is absent here. A thin black ribbon is also normally visible at the back of this headgear, it is also missing, cut, worn, or simply that time has done its work...

This example will be presented in the "Battle of Arras - April 1917" section.

Scottish glengarry of Argyll and Sutherland regiment

Black and red wool, gold braid and chinstrap, brass insignia (numbers) of the 97th RIA, brass buttons, black leather visor, thin canvas lining.
The cap (kepi) was worn by all French troops at the beginning of the war before the appearance of the Adrian helmet in 1915 and the standardization of the matching uniform in "horison blue" (1915-1916). Naturally, the troop model (kepi model 1884 used at the beginning of the war) and that of the officers are not identical. The main difference lies in the presence of gold braids on the top of the headdress, on the perimeter (1 line for the rank of second lieutenant) and the chinstrap maintained by two small buttons with a fusing grenade. This kind of kepi model is sometimes called "képi polo".

The RIA (Régiment d'Infanterie Alpine) were at the time dedicated to the defence of fixed positions such as forts, as opposed to the more mobile Chasseurs Alpins regiments. Far from the mountains, the 97th RIA was on the outskirts of Arras at the end of September 1914, and came under German fire on 1st and 2nd October 1914 at Wancourt and Guemappe during the First Battle of Artois. They will take part in stopping the German advance in front of Arras, whereas the invader breaks on Artois by Cambrai at the time of the episode of "the race to the sea" after having been pushed back at the time of the battle of the Marne (more details on our page History).

This object will be presented in the section "First combats - German invasion October 1914".

French cap of french infantry second lieutenant (97ème Régiment d'infanterie Alpine - 97e RIA)
455-Tobacco box "Bulwark"

Painted stamped steel plate.

W.D.& H.O. Wills is a cigarettes maker from Great Britain (Bristol) founded in 1786 under Watkins & Co. by Henry Overton Wills and Samuel Watkins to finally take the name W.D.& H.O. Wills in 1830. The company existed until 1988. This model of box was actually used by the British troops stationed in France during the Great War.

 

Category : Daily life of the soldier

Section : British Army

Website pictures description :
489-German beer bottle

Green glass without cap

Of mark GEBRÜDER HOGHREIN BIERBRAUEREI KALTENHAUSEN the beer is naturally one of the drinks very consumed in the German trenches. One still finds some intact like this example.

 

Category : Soldier's daily life

Section : German Army

504,5,6-Canning jars (meat or fish paste)

Thick white glass

These small glass jars of various sizes and shapes were used by companies such as, for example, CROSSE & BLACKWELL LONDON ENGLAND (pickles manufacturer) to put meat or fish pastes ready to spread. Very used by the British soldiers for the snack in the trenches.

 

Category : soldier's daily life

Section : British army

474-German cartridge belt

Light grey cotton canvas.

Cartridge belt known as "lightness" (disposable) "Patronen-Tragegurt". Is worn at the neck. They contain 70 cartridges (Mauser G98 rifle and derivatives). These ammunitions are added to the 120 cartridges carried on the belt in the leather cartridge belts. For a total of 190 rounds. They were distributed to the men before the assault.

 

Category: soldier's equipment

Section : German Army

British officer's water bottle

Sheet of tinned brass stamped and soldered with tin.

The flask (water bottle) equips all the soldiers of the Great War. Naturally the model differs between the armies. For the British, it is a straight-edged model with a flat bottom, generally made of blue enamelled steel sheet or, as here, of brass, covered with a khaki felt to limit reflections and noise. It is worn with the other equipment of the "WEB" bag in tight cotton canvas or leather. It is closed by a cork.

 

Category : Soldier's equipment

Section : British Army

485-British MkI Folding Cutting Pliers

Forged steel, web tight cotton house, cotton cord

The shears are an integral part of the soldier's equipment. Very useful to get rid of the barbed wire that littered the no man's land. There were individual models (small size), others of larger size, and some models (rarer) equipped the end of the rifle (mechanical cut or cut by bullet). Brand CHEESMAN 1917

 

Category : Soldier's equipment

Section : British Army

415-Frontal ornamental plate of a Bavarian helmet mle 1891


Stamped brass plate, oxidized, deformed, screwed fixation.

Bavarian plate first model will undergo several modifications. Motto of Bavaria "In True Fest": "Firm in fidelity".

Each helmet with point adorned a front plate specific to the state to which the regiment belonged. This plate will evolve in particular in type of material during the Great War and will disappear with the appearance of the steel helmet Stahlhelm M16.

 

Category : Soldier's equipment

Section : German Army

481 - Biscuits box "Lusitania" Huntley & Palmers

Painted pressed steel sheet

The Huntley & Palmers firm was founded in 1822. During the First World War, the company participated in the war effort by manufacturing storage boxes for shells. It ceased trading in 1976. About the Lusitania painted on the box, it was commissioned in 1907. It was requisitioned in 1914 by the Royal Navy as an auxiliary cruiser for war duties but the Lusitania continued her transatlantic passenger voyages. Torpedoed by a German submarine (U-20) on 7 May 1915 off the coast of Ireland : 1,200 dead out of 2,000 passengers, including 128 Americans, while the ship was carrying a secret cargo of munitions. This tragic event played an important role in the hostility of the United States towards Germany, until its involvement in the First World War from 6 April 1917.

478 - Chocolates box McVities "Rheims Chocolates"

Steel plate paper labelling

McVities and Price Ltd is an Anglo-Saxon biscuit brand. The name comes from the original Scottish manufacturer McVitie & Price, Ltd. which was established in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1830. The company also operates two large manufacturing plants, one of which is in London. In 1947, the company made the wedding cake for Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Still in business today, however in 2014 the Turkish company Yildiz bought the United Biscuit Group including the McVitie's brand.

478 - Obus de char britannique de 6 livres

Cast iron shell and copper belt, copper casing.

The British tanks used in the sector (MarkII, IV and V) could be equipped, as main armament, either with 4 machine-guns (tanks called "females"), or with 2 guns (tanks called "males"), in this second version, the guns equipping the tanks fired projectiles such as this one of 6PR (6 pounds - 57mm - 2.72kg) 207 to 334 projectiles are loaded in each tank.

The gun used in the tanks is a variant of the Hotchkiss 6PR gun (Hotchkiss&Cie) introduced in 1885 in the navy and in fort defence.

Coming soon: Relics of Tank 796 (Lt Skinner)

Tank 796 (D23) was shot down on 11 April 1917 during the attack on the Hindenburg Line between Bullecourt and Queant (more info). Male Mark II model (equipped with 6-pounder guns), and commanded by Lieutenant Hugh Skinner.

Gough, on command of the British 5th Army, following the success recorded at the opening of the battle of Arras wants to open a new front a little more south of the Hindenburg Line : at Bullecourt, and he counts on this new weapon that are the tanks to unfold a new technique of attack without artillery preparation, the tanks being supposed to allow the infantry to pass the impenetrable networks of barbed wires which characterized the defences of the Hindenburg Line. The attack was launched at 4.45 am on the snowy morning of 11 April 1917 (originally planned for 10 April) on this small village in the Hauts de France, Bullecourt.

The 796 was one of the 12 tanks originally planned to open the Australian attack around Bullecourt. Skinner's tank was placed on the left flank of the main attack. It started at the railway line to the south of the village and hurled its almost 30 tonnes of steel across no-man's-land. It made a near straight line to the outskirts of the village of Bullecourt where it was engaged by machine gun fire which enfiladed the main attack, throwing metal shrapnel into the machine and inflict wounds the crew. The machine stops at a large, impassable hole with no possibility of reversing due to a technical problem. It is then at the mercy of the fire coming from all sides, it is definitively put out of order by a mortar fire whereas it is two steps from the Hindenburg Line at the outskirts of the village of Bullecourt. It was Skinner's tank 976 that came closest to the village that day. Miraculously, the entire crew of 8 men, from shell hole to shell hole, managed to return to their starting point at the railway line.

After these battles this tank would attract a lot of British fire as it was ideally placed to serve as an observation post by the Germans. As with all the tanks left on the ground, the Germans would also salvage whatever they could from it. The sad wreckage of 976 will remain on the spot until after the war then like many others will be dismounted, buried, destroyed. Only a few scattered parts have now reached us... we share a sample of them with you on this page.

 

Details about the Mark II tank (male) :

Dimensions: Length 7.92m, width 4.39m, height 2.44m

Weight: 28.4T

Armament (males): 2 Hotchkiss 6-pounder cannons (57mm) and 4 Hotchkiss 303 machine guns (7.62mm)

Crew: 8 men

Speed: 6km/h

Producers: Foster & Co and Metropolitan

Quantity produced: 50 (25 males - 25 females)

Quantity delivered in France: 45

 

Note: the pieces presented are all from archaeological excavations carried out by the associations Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage with the permission of the local authorities and with the support of the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles (DRAC).

550-British individual P08 (patern 1908) entrenching tool

Forged steel, field wreck

This portable entrenching tool was used by the British troops, this is carried in a cover (web cotton or leather) separated from its wooden handle which was positioned against the bayonet. The soldier who wanted to use his tool to make his combat hole could seize the two parts at hand on his equipment, quickly assemble them and use them. This tool was still in use almost unchanged during the Second World War.