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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Two canadian Soldiers and a cozy place to seat


gporta

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I got a couple of old local magazines, containing a few Great War pictures.

Here I am posting one which the accompanying text describes as follows (roughly translated):

"After the battle: Canadian soldiers resting over obstacles put to prevent enemy advance"

The magazine is dated september 29th 1917, so the picture must be from around that time

The fakir-type defences are quite hair-raising: and you thought that barbed wire was bad enough! :blink:

Gloria

post-6853-1128634237.jpg

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I wonder if these might be trench blocks; or for fortified houses.

Thanks Gloria, for posting this.

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These boards were commonly (on the rare occasions they seem to have been used) kept in trenches; if a position was over-run and about to be evacuated, they would be dropped onto the trench floor so that any attacking troops leaping over the parapet and down into the trench would be impaled on them - feet first. I don't recall such injuries being commonly reported in any British medical histories of the war, so can only conclude that they were rarely used? They also seem to have been used by the French, but I have never come across a British reference for them?

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I don't recall such injuries being commonly reported in any British medical histories of the war, so can only conclude that they were rarely used? They also seem to have been used by the French, but I have never come across a British reference for them?

So Paul they were used by German and French forces, but not by Imperials? Thus these Canucks are in a former German position?

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They appear to be caltrops, wired or stapled to the boards. They are designed to have a point uppermost whichever way they fall if used without being mounted on a board. Different designs have been around for hundreds of years before the Great War, and were particularly useful against horses.

Looking at the photograph, there appears to be a road in the background. Perhaps they were kept there as a quickly emplaced obstacle for cavalry (If they broke through!).

The same principal of a rapidly emplaced obstacle is still used for cars in some areas of the world.

Chris Henschke

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What a nice little surprise to wake up to. Perhaps I can shed some light on the subject. Currently, I am working on the War letters and revising the Story of the 40th Battery by Sergeant Stan Nash, and the individuals shown are from the Battery. The area is from the Devil’s Elbow.

The information for the picture is

“This is the cutting where the Arras-Lens road drops down from Vimy Ridge. Signallers McMunn and Rowlands, from an adjacent observation post, are recording hostile shelling. Note the roll of D3 telephone wire and the German cavalry spikes intended to be placed in this defile to destroy our horse’s hoofs.”

Geoffrey

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What a nice little surprise to wake up to.  Perhaps I can shed some light on the subject.  Currently, I am working on the War letters and revising the Story of the 40th Battery by Sergeant Stan Nash, and the individuals shown are from the Battery.  The area is from the Devil’s Elbow.

The information for the picture is

“This is the cutting where the Arras-Lens road drops down from Vimy Ridge.  Signallers McMunn and Rowlands, from an adjacent observation post, are recording hostile shelling.  Note the roll of D3 telephone wire and the German cavalry spikes intended to be placed in this defile to destroy our horse’s hoofs.”

Geoffrey

:rolleyes: you know, this is REALLY the kind of thing I love about this forum!

I'm simply amazed

Do you know more about this picture? i.e.: if the publication date of the magazine actually runs close?... and, indeed, and just out of curiosity, who is McMunn and who is Rowlands ;)

Re the image: I can certainly do a better scan but bear in mind that the original image is in halftone and the paper somewhat yellowed... Anyway I'll see what can be done and drop you a line about it.

Gloria

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Hello again,

Yes, this photo was taken shortly after Vimy. The gentleman in the picture are from the left, signallers (701255) John Howard McMunn and (306612) Walter Augustus Rowlands. J. H. McMunn won the Military Medal (March 12, 1918Gazette #30573), and Rowlands was seconded from the 41st Battery in April of 1917.

Moreover, could you please tell me which magazine you found this in as I would love to try and find a personal copy of it.

Geoffrey

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Geoffrey,

Thanks for the information, it is quite thrilling to learn the story behind the image (beyond what is said in the caption). It is interesting to know that they were taking notes about enemy shelling, in my ignorance, I had always thought that Signaller Rowlands was writing a letter home.

The magazine'name (as seen in the scan attached) is "La Ilustración Católica -La Hormiga de Oro-", Issue 39, September 29th 1918. To the best of my knowledge it is no longer in existence, though the bookshop "La Hormiga de Oro" ("The Golden Ant": Yes, really), which were the publishers, are still in bussiness at the same old place.

The magazines, though I rescued them recently from a box I finally located (I had lost sight of it after a house move), were in fact purchased some years ago... So I don't really know if they would be easy to find right now: old bookshops don't always keep all their stock listed, and they don't seem to be much engaged about selling their stocks online. So I'll see if I can do a good high-resolution scan.

Gloria

post-6853-1128707566.jpg

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“This is the cutting where the Arras-Lens road drops down from Vimy Ridge.  Signallers McMunn and Rowlands, from an adjacent observation post, are recording hostile shelling.  Note the roll of D3 telephone wire and the German cavalry spikes intended to be placed in this defile to destroy our horse’s hoofs.”

Geoffrey

I am quite sure that this is what they were intending using them for here, but I suspect that have been made up for use in the trenches, not just on the roads (how often did cavalry break through at this period of the war?) - and that these lads from the CEF are in a captured dump of materials.

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  • 1 year later...

The same picture appears in COVENANTS WITH DEATH under Caption "Spikes-A modern war adaption of an ancient device to frustrate cavalry attacks".I have a number of these Caltrops or CROWS FEET as they were also known, in my collection,there are 2 sizes the ones shown in the Picture and another much larger size approx the size of a Football.I believe that both versions were used in an anti personnel/Horse role,and also in the role as they are shown in the Photograph.Caltrops were very cheap and easy to produce,wether they were effective in the role that they were designed for ?

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Caltrops

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When photographed in such moments almost all soldiers show a certain jauntiness. Forgive me for noting a certain Dominion Jauntiness, especially in the J.H. McMunn's posture and facial expression. Perhaps he was a hockey player before the war.

NMG, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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  • 3 weeks later...
The same picture appears in COVENANTS WITH DEATH under Caption "Spikes-A modern war adaption of an ancient device to frustrate cavalry attacks".I have a number of these Caltrops or CROWS FEET as they were also known, in my collection,there are 2 sizes the ones shown in the Picture and another much larger size approx the size of a Football.I believe that both versions were used in an anti personnel/Horse role,and also in the role as they are shown in the Photograph.Caltrops were very cheap and easy to produce,wether they were effective in the role that they were designed for ?

Hi PBI

Re your caltrops

we use to us these in belfast and armagh during troubles or riots and where exerlent for stopping cars inthere tracks to either capture or protect vehicles and troops on the ground ours where made of twisted 6inch nails and then fastened to a chain, hence the british police force is now using them in snap VCPs around the country.

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Interesting note on the caltrop. It is the modern insignia of the US Army's III Corps. It is noteworthy to see it as an application of 20th century warfare and in context no less.

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Hi PBI

Re your caltrops

we use to us these in belfast and armagh during troubles or riots and where exerlent for stopping cars inthere tracks to either capture or protect vehicles and troops on the ground ours where made of twisted 6inch nails and then fastened to a chain, hence the british police force is now using them in snap VCPs around the country.

Happy Days,i remember them Well.

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Hi Geoffrey,

I was very interested to read that you are revising the "Story of the 40th Battery by Nash". I am a realation of Norman Harvie who was killed in action while serving with this Battery. I would love to get a copy of this book. Do you have this in an electronic form that can be emailed, or can you suggest another place I can get a copy.

Thank you

Bill Harvie

What a nice little surprise to wake up to. Perhaps I can shed some light on the subject. Currently, I am working on the War letters and revising the Story of the 40th Battery by Sergeant Stan Nash, and the individuals shown are from the Battery. The area is from the Devil’s Elbow.

The information for the picture is

“This is the cutting where the Arras-Lens road drops down from Vimy Ridge. Signallers McMunn and Rowlands, from an adjacent observation post, are recording hostile shelling. Note the roll of D3 telephone wire and the German cavalry spikes intended to be placed in this defile to destroy our horse’s hoofs.”

Geoffrey

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Hi Geoffrey,

I was very interested to read that you are revising the "Story of the 40th Battery by Nash". I am a realation of Norman Harvie who was killed in action while serving with this Battery. I would love to get a copy of this book. Do you have this in an electronic form that can be emailed, or can you suggest another place I can get a copy.

Thank you

Bill Harvie

Hello Bill,

I will contact you off forum.

Cheers,

Geoffrey

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