World War I Essay: The Role of Machine Guns

Machine Guns

How Did Machine Guns Managed to Change the World War I?

No one can say that war is something that he/she likes, but unfortunately, sometimes it is inevitable. During the war, a country, which is less progressive in an aspect of technology, occupies a disadvantageous position in the conflict comparing to the one, which is more developed. In case when no one has an advantage over another, tactics gets crucial.

Machine guns are considered to be the most important weapons during World War I. However, at the very beginning of the war, a machine gun was not considered as powerful as it eventually was. According to Willbanks, from the moment when war started, the number of machine guns per the division increased from 24 to 160 by the end of war.

The total number of soldiers that took part in a war was enormous, so the main goal of both sides was to “destroy an enemy as quickly and cheaply as possible”. Machine gun fitted this need perfectly. For example, during a battle between the German and British troops, which occurred on the banks of the Somme River, on the 1-st of July, 1916, two military divisions of the British army were wiped-out with a single machine gun within a few seconds.

The effectiveness and efficiency of this type of weapon changed “the previous style of warfare.” Instead of usual hand-to-hand warfare or straight attacking a trenched enemy, as it was on the Somme, the machine gun brought a completely new way of understanding the war tactics.

The significance of the machine guns in the World War I was considered to be twofold: it efficiently eliminated a great number of enemy soldiers within a short period of time and it contributed a lot to further development of the field of tactics, introducing novel approaches and concepts in leading a war.