Bosnia, an 18-year-old Serbian named Gavrilo Princip, shot and killed Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife Duchess Sophie while they were driving in a convertible. Princip belonged to a secret terror society, called the Black Hand, that wanted to unite Bosnia with Serbia, and rid itself of Austrian rule. The assassination led to the first World War. This terrible conflict lasted over 4 years, involved over 30 nations, and claimed more than 20,000,000 lives, both military and civilian.
It cost billions of dollars, destroyed Europe, and crumbled empires. The biggest cause of death in the war was artillery fire, which accounted for 60% of all deaths on the western front. In the rocky landscape of the desert (where artillery was more effective) they caused almost 75% of all deaths. The Battle of Verdun started on the 21st of February, 1916. In the battle, artillery was used to barrage the enemy lines and force retreat. The Germans were armed with FK16’s (77 mm field artillery) and Morser 10’s (210 mm heavy howitzer’s).
While the French retaliated with canon de 75 M1897’s (75 mm field artillery), canon de 155 C M1915 (155 mm field howitzer), and Mortier de 280 M1914 Schneider’s (280 mm siege howitzer). The battle of Verdun was the longest of the entire war and stole countless lives on both sides. The Germans lost 100,000 soldiers, while the French buried close to 165,000 brave men after the battle had come to a close. In total, the battle produced 714,231 casualties. The picture above was taken on February 21,1916, in Verdun, France during the first engagement of the battle.
The French had just received a German bombardment to their front most trench. Soon after this picture was taken, the French were forced to retreat, for the Germans had superior man power and artillery count. In the picture, a man sits next to a place where an Artillery shell has detonated inside the trench killing many soldiers. When a shell hits it is unanticipated; a blur of mud and metal. A shell can be anywhere between the size of a man’s arm to his entire body. Imagine that dropping out of the sky loaded with tons of explosives. The scariest thing about them was they could hit anywhere at anytime.
This picture is meant to show the brutality of artillery warfare. The angle of the man lying in the mud is depicted gruesomely, and the look on the soldier’s face behind him begs the question “Why am I here? ” Pictures just like this were taken throughout the war and clearly show how much blood was spilled and how many young brave souls were lost. The Battle of Verdun ended with no clear victor on December 13, 1916. The German general said his goal was to “bleed the French army white. ” Indeed he did, but not before suffering 435,000 casualties. A picture is worth a thousand words, but was this conflict worth millions of lives?