Avery Abernethy, 30 January 2019
Part 3 – Uniforms
Ground troops uniforms and equipment are prominent. My photos are haphazard captures of what interested me.
We have a very nice display of the unit insignia of all US divisions and units.
The war started with equipment like that issued to troops in the Franco-Prussian War and Crimean Wars including lances for mounted troops. Calvary was big target for twentieth century weapons. The Europeans did not figure out prewar what the US learned during the War Between the States. Grenades were hung like ornaments on a Christmas tree giving an excellent visual perspective.
Several machine guns from both Allied and Central Powers forces are here. WW1 machine guns are very large and required large crews to transport, fire, and feed the guns. Even the broken down machine guns required large numbers of men to move. There was also a display of the “stripper clips” used to feed ammunition into some machine guns used early in the war.
A small number of light artillery pieces and one trench mortar are displayed. Close by (less than an hour’s drive) at the Harry Truman Presidential Library, there is a French 75 which President Truman manned in his World War 1 service. Medium and heavy artillery were extremely important on the Western Front, but this equipment is not here.
I’d never given much thought on how barbed wire was mounted between the trenches. I knew night “wire patrols” were common. During my childhood we had a small herd of cattle in a pasture enclosed with a barbed wire fence. But digging out post holes and hammering the wire into the posts would be noisy and attract unwanted attention in combat. WW1 barbed wire posts were giant screws corkscrewed into the ground. An obvious solution I’ve never considered.
Multiple uniform displays are here from many armies. Two different uniforms are pictured. The first is an Australian forces uniform including their distinctive headgear used in the Mideast and Turkey. The second is the US Army issue cold weather uniform issued to troops serving in the Artic in Russia after the Commies overthrew the Czar. The US fielded troops in Russia extending several years after the Armistice, one of the least known US WW1 operations.
The most interesting equipment exhibit is a Renault FT17 Tank. This French tank was one of the most effective and maneuverable tanks in WW1. You start by seeing the undamaged portions. As you walk around the tank you see where a corner was blown out of the armor by a German light artillery piece using direct fire over open sights.
Last, I have a picture of an anti-tank rifle. These oversized, single man rifles could effectively pierce the light armor of WW1 Tanks. Anti-tank rifles were issued to troops during WW2 (including to Soviet troops as late as 1942) but were ineffective. By WW2 tank armor had become much heavier and could resist anti-rifle rounds.
My buddy Brant Guillory served in the US Armor during his military duty. I picked up a nifty bookmark of the FT17 Tank and mailed it to him. Because how can friendship be better demonstrated than by gifting an F17 Tank bookmark?