first world war

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Glisenti M1910

The M1910 was developed by Societal Siderugica Glisenti, an Italian firearms manufacturer, to replace the ageing Bodeo M1889 revolver.  Designed by Bethel Abiel Revelli the pistol used a short recoil system and a pivoting locking wedge it fed for a 7-round magazine.  There pistol has an unusual grip safety at the front of the grip running down from the trigger guard (see image #2). 

Chambered in the proprietary 9mm Glisenti round which shares some of the dimensions of its better known contemporary 9mm Parabellum but is less powerful and has a slower velocity.   Development of the pistol began in 1906 with Glisenti purchasing Revelli’s design who in turn sold the manufacturing rights to another company Metallurgica Bresica gia Tempini. In 1909 the Italian army tested the pistol in its original 7.65x22mm calibre and requested it be chambered in a more powerful round similar to the new German 9x19mm round. Because the pistol’s design was inherently incapable of withstanding the higher pressures of 9mm Parabellum the result was the weaker 9mm Glisenti. 

The pistol saw service during the First World War with approximately 100,000 being made before it was increasingly supplanted in service from 1916 onwards by better designs from Berretta who still provide Italy’s service pistol today.  The M1910 also saw some limited use during World War Two and the design was revised and sold on the civilian market by Metallurgica Bresica gia Tempini as the Braxia. 

Sources:

Image One Source
Image Two Source

Pistols of the World, I. Hogg & J Weeks (1992)

A lace bedspread is still on the bed, adorned with photographs and his feathered helmet. His moth-eaten military jacket hangs limply on a hanger. His chair, tucked under his desk, faces the window in the room where he was born on 10 October 1896.

A French soldier’s room has been left unchanged for 96 years since his death in the first world war. 

Photo: Bruno Mascle/Photoshot

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April 25th 1915: Gallipoli campaign begins

On this day in 1915, during World War One, the doomed Gallipoli campaign began on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire. The plan was the brainchild of British Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, who intended to weaken the Ottoman war effort by opening another front in the Dardanelles, forcing Germany to split their army and send troops to aid their Turkish allies. Churchill’s proposal was risky, underestimating the ability of the Turkish army, and was hastily pushed through the War Office. The initial naval attack in the Dardanelles in February had some success, but British and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops were soon called in to push inland and capture Constantinople. The landings began on April 25th, with Allied troops deployed at separate beaches. One of the most famous landings were the ANZAC forces at Anzac Cove, where they faced fierce resistance from the Turks. The British fared little better at Cape Helles, and by May, 20,000 of the 70,000 men deployed suffered causalities. The campaign continued for months, with Allied soldiers living under Turkish fire and shelling, and suffering poor conditions in the trenches. Eventually, fierce critics of the operation began to speak out, and in December and January the Allied forces were evacuated from Gallipoli. The campaign was a disaster for the Allies, who lost around 45,000 men, and failed to make any strategic gains. While the Turkish successfully and bravely defended their country, it proved a Pyrrhic victory as they lost 86,000 soldiers in the campaign. This day is commemorated in Australia and New Zealand as Anzac Day, in honour of the over 10,000 soldiers who died during the Gallipoli campaign representing their countries as independent nations.

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.”
- Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who fought at Gallipoli, on the ANZAC dead in 1934

100 years ago

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Scars of War:  Battlefield Landscapes from World War I, 100 years Ago 

Photographer Michael St Maur Sheil spent seven years on the project Fields of Battle - Lands of Peace 14-18, featuring powerful and atmospheric images that reveal the battlefields of the First World War as they look today, one century on. - from The Telegraph

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> Top: The landscape of the Newfoundland Memorial Park, in Beaumont Hamel, France – Trenches, shell craters, and wire pickets remain much in evidence.  Beaumont-Hamel was situated near the northern end of the 45-kilometer front being assaulted by joint French and British forces. On July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, during an assault that lasted approximately 30 minutes the Newfoundland Regiment was all but wiped out, decimated by German machine guns and suffering 814 casualties. The 74-acre memorial site was purchased in 1921 by the people of Newfoundland; it is the largest battalion memorial on the Western Front, and the largest area of the Somme battlefield that has been preserved. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of memorials and cemeteries contained within the site.

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> 2nd: The Lochnagar Crater, La Boisselle, Somme, France – The British Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers dug a tunnel 50 feet deep and extending for about 300 yards from the British lines to the German front line. There, under the German position, they laid a mine consisting of over 25 tons of Ammonal.  It was blown along with 16 others at 07:28 on the morning of July 1, 1916 as a two-minute precursor to the start of the Somme Offensive.  The resulting explosion blew almost half a million tons of chalk into the surrounding fields, sending debris over 4,000 feet into the air. It created a vast hole 300 feet across and 90 feet deep. Lochnagar remains the largest crater made in warfare to this day. The sound of the blast was considered the loudest man-made noise in history up to that point, with reports suggesting it was heard in London.

It has been privately owned by Richard Dunning since 1978, to save at least one of the original Somme craters from being filled in and built upon by local farmers. There are several memorials at the site, with an annual ceremony every July 1 at a wooden cross at the crater to commemorate the first day of the Somme Offensive.

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> 3rd:  Butte de Vauquois – The original site of the village of Vauquois atop this hill was destroyed by mining during the period between February 1915 and February 1918.  This region of France is a series of ridges, with those of Vauquois and Mort Homme guarding the valley leading down towards Verdun.  For five months the French fought to get a foothold on the ridge where the Germans were dug in.  From the middle of 1915 onward, the war at Vauquois would be fought almost entirely beneath the ground. Pioneers from both nations tunneled and dug as they provided the shelters and galleries of trench warfare, along with setting dozens of mines.

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> 4th:  Battlefield grave memorial in Champagne – This is probably the last soldiers battlefield burial site memorial on the Western Front left intact with the soldier’s equipment, including his rusty helmet atop a wooden cross.  There is a plaque that reads ‘Grave of Edouard Ivaldi, Cpl 7/RI killed 30 April 1917,’ which was placed there in 1919 by his father Jean.

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> 5th:  The reconstructed gateway of the Chateau de Soupir – The Chateau served as a casualty clearing station, but was badly damaged during the war and subsequently demolished in 1917. The village of Soupir was largely destroyed during the Second Battle of the Aisne. Today, five national cemeteries are located in Soupir: two for France, and one each for Germany, the UK, and Italy.

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> 6th:  Unexploded shells uncovered by plowing near Munich Trench Cemetery, Beaumont Hamel, await collection by the Bomb Squad.  More than one billion shells were fired in WWI, and as many as 30 percent did not explode. During building construction or after spring plowing on the former battlefields of France and Belgium, potentially lethal ammunition is still brought to the surface. Despite the dangers, there is illegal trade:  some “collectors” search for the shells, defuse them at home, and then sell them at collectors markets.  People are still being killed every year by unexploded ordnance.

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> 7th:  The compass belonged to Second Lieutenant Eric Black, aged 24, who was an undergraduate at Keble College, Oxford and commissioned into the Lincolnshire Regiment. On May 9, 1915 they attacked a position known as Rouges Bancs, in conjunction with the battle of Aubers Ridge. Black was making his way back from the front line in the evening when he disappeared in the area of this field. The compass was found in 1992.