During the four years of the First World War, both sides gradually introduced an armoury of weapons which had never been seen or even imagined in previous conflicts. Warfare, as one Intelligence officer observed with admiration in 1918, was constantly taking new forms of which neither civilians nor soldiers, nor even generals, were fully aware.1 Most of the professional military had begun in 1914 with long-held preconceptions about the way that their war would develop. It would be short and sharp as in 1870 and include a major role for the cavalry. Four years later, it was clear that the type of warfare previously conducted had been dramatically re-shaped by the technological developments of the previous half-century, by the need to mobilize all corners of society for an idealistic struggle to the end, and by the lessons steadily learnt on the battlefield about how different techniques or types of weapon could mesh together. Aeroplanes, first used during Italy’s war against Turkey in 1911–12, became a regular sight over the trenches; their reconnaissance activity was woven into the fabric of each belligerent’s Intelligence network, even if parachutes were still in their infancy and flying was still something to be marvelled at as a dangerous business. The coordination of war from the air with war on the ground was matched by a gradual harmonization of other new types of weaponry with the traditional ‘material’ of warfare, the infantry: of machine guns; of artillery, which replaced the horse; of chemical weapons; and of front propaganda or psychological warfare.
KeywordsCentral Power Interwar Period Military Intelligence Western Front Western Ally
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