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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Electrified barbed wire near Loos - dec. 1915


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In December 1915 the French 135ème Regiment d'infanterie was holding the lines in the sector of Lens at Loos ("double crassier"), on the 31st of December 1915 the regiment diary says:

"Sector 85 and 87: two red lights looking like a star, these glows occured beyond our trench on the ground and lasted for about 2 or 3 minutes. According to a gunner and the captain of the 10 coy. these lights were caused by french bullets hitting the ennemy barbed wire, causing sparks... The captain Biles thinks that the sparks are due to the electrification of the barbed wire."

A couple of days before a lieutnant form the 135ème (Lt. Gaillard) was sent to the Satory camp (near Paris) to have specialised courses in ... electricity.

On the german side, the ASTA ( = Armee Starkstrom Abteilung ) was a unit specialised in electrification and was based in the sector, see photo below (notice the lightning shoulder badge)


The next day, 1st of January 1916 the 135ème RI left the area and was releived by a British unit, but I don't know which one. ( For info the 135ème RI was part of the 6e Brigade d’Infanterie; 18e Division d’Infanterie; 9e Corps d'Armée)

I was wondering if you have any info from the British war diaries, or any info about electrified german barbed wire in the area of Loos ?

Thanks for your help,


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For 11 years I have been reading about the Great War on all sides, usually several hours a day, and in most of the major languages (my reading for the last year has been 98% in German, French, and Flemish), almost entirely primary sources, documents, war diaries, private unit histories, and also "official histories" with caution, and I have only seen anything about electrified wire perhaps 1-2 times. And note that you are citing such activity in 1915.

The idea seems to make sense, but I imagine that there were many practical difficulties, and before a major attack a heavy bombardment on the wire would have messed up the system and shorted it out badly.

Most of my work is on the German Army and I have never heard of the unit or this type of unit.

Fascinating topic, however.

Bob Lembke

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I knew that electrified barbed wire was used in the Vosges area in 1916: col de la chapelotte, Hartmannwillerskopf (see the link in french: http://lencrierdupoilu.blogspot.com/2008/09/dfenses-lectrique-lhartmannswillerkopf.html )

From the war diary of the 33ème Regiment d'Infanterie Coloniale, dated 18 January 1918, an officer was electrified and killed during a patrol:


But I don't know anything about electrification in other places.



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probably the largest 'electrified' wire was the so called wire of death on the Dutch-Belgian border. This precursor to the 'Iron Curtain' was especially aimed against civilian refugees. (about 2000 victims)


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I believe that I have located where the electrified german barbed wire was (it's from an original map of the 135ème RI dated 28 December 1915)

North of the Double crassier at Loos, just below the Bethune-Lens road.


Hope it helps,


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