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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Flares


bu6512
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Hi all

Sorry if this has already been asked, dose any one know what time of flares where used in the Great war and by what sides, i read somewhere the Germans had them from the outset is this true? any info much appreciated!

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'dose [sic] any one know what time of flares where [sic] used in...'

What time? Any time, day or night.

Where used? Any place.

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Hi all

Sorry if this has already been asked, dose any one know what time of flares where used in the Great war and by what sides, i read somewhere the Germans had them from the outset is this true? any info much appreciated!

Do you mean what type?

If so then generally there Pistol fired or Rocket type flares, normally with some form of parachute.

Gunner Bailey

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Flares had essentially two purposes

1] To illuminate

2} To signal (often in emergency)

In the first case a single white light (often magnesium based) on a parachute would be used most usually from a very light pistol or by a gun firing a variant of the navy starshell. Detested by night patrols, wiring parties and trench raiders.

In the second coloured combinations would be used. Very light pistols sometimes but often rockets and rifle grenades as these could carry a mixture of coloured 'stars'. I have a photo of an SOS chart for Mg in the Ypres sector June 1918 that gives the SOS signal as "a rifle grenade bursting into 3 red stars" upon which the mg battery would apply 5 minutes rapid indirect fire on a specific location followed by a lower rate "until situation clears". Damp weather could affect rockets and cause misfires so the rifle grenade would be more reliable.

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Thanks for the info! I've always wondered if parachute flares where available in the great war as they must have been relatively new at that time? (i can't find any reference in the field service pocket book or infantry training 1914) as with most weapons of war necessity is the mother of invention!

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I should add that flares were sometimes dropped by aircraft, sometimes as part of a move to isolate a particular part of the front as this made it very difficult for relieving/reinforcing parties or artillery to move up 'on top'

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