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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

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From: was it safer being an artillery man than a simple soldier



An interesting question raised by mags "was it safer being an artillery man than a simple soldier ".

From Tom's analysis of Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914 – 1920 it would appear that surviving unscathed was more likely as a gunner than an infantry man. If one considers that the main threat to the artillery man was counter battery fire, the infantry were subject to the same risk as bombardment of trenches and lines of communication were also prevalent. For the PBI it would be the contact battle in no mans land, subject to concentrated artillery and machine gun fire, which the majority of artillery would not be exposed to.

However, this needs to be put in context. As Ken points out the Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park records;

In Proud Memory Of The Forty-Nine-Thousand-Seventy-Six

Of All Ranks Of The

Royal Regiment of Artillery

Who Gave Their Lives for King

And Country in the Great War'



Looking at the statistics 85% of casualties came from the infantry and machine gun corps, testimony to the dangers those men faced. The Artillery sustained more casualties than the other arms added together. This is not surprising as Kevin points out;

It's worth bearing in mind that on many occasions Artillery units remained in the line whilst the Divisions' Infantry went back to billets. They also were switched to other Divisions on a temporary basis whilst the Infantry had a period of rest.

However looking beyond the statistics Roger makes a poignant statement;

I'm not sure that I am bothered which was "safer". They all did their duty :poppy:

Hi all,

From the figures provided from the upper part of the table on page 249 of Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914 – 1920, the following breakdown of casualty percentages are produced:


Tom McC


Source: was it safer being an artillery man than a simple soldier


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My grandfather was in the RFA and in his journal he states that the trenches had it worst than they did. However, as the others have stated, it wasn't easy for any of them but together they did their job. I believe that those that served in communications for the artillery, like my grandfather, was exposed to greater danger. Field telephone services had to go out and find breaks in the wire, which exposed them to sniper fire on top of bombardment.

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An excellent point.

The bravery of the linesmen who went out to repair the lines under fire was keyto the effectiveness of the Artillery. In one my previous posts I re-iterated asign which used to be displayed in the Signals Wing at the Royal School ofArtillery "No Comms - No Bombs". There is nothing more frustratingthan a handset in your hand and not being able to communicate and bring downfire because you cannot communicate with the guns.



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