Weapons Of War

While Germany was prepared to hold on to the parts of France that it occupied, the French and British were determined to regain this lost territory and free its people. 1915 had seen the introduction of poison gas and flame-throwers, and technological development continued on the battlefield in 1916.

Tanks made their battlefield debut at Flers-Courcelette in September 1916 accompanied by men of the 6th K.O.Y.L.I. Of the 49 available, 36 tanks reached their start points. However, they did not prove to be as successful as hoped and did not provide the breakthrough intended. Many struggled across the muddy terrain and broke down or malfunctioned. However, tanks showed promise. Many adaptations and improvements were made and by the end of the war tanks were a key piece of equipment.

In 1916, the British Army supplemented rifles and bayonets with light and heavy machine guns trench mortars and rifle grenades. These weapons helped in refining the techniques and methods needed to successfully defeat opposing forces entrenched in strongly held positions.

First official photograph of a tank going into battle at Flers-Courcelette 15 September 1916, Imperial War Museum. © IWM (Q 2488)