yes i voted artillery, i just assumed it was highest kills of the war. all small arms fire i would of guessed to be under 60%,i thought i read somewhere 30% of casualties frag. im sure there are stats somwehere. bayonets accounted for so little. tanks and aircraft....less then bayonets over the entire war...surely,1918 alone maybe higher.
I voted Machine Guns. They were the one thing that made that stalemate, along with the mines, artillery, etc.
I think in total, bayonets would account for something, the Russians had many close combat experiences I thought with their numbers and lack of ammo?
I vote for artillery. Artillery was the main cause the war was stalemated and was forced into trench warfare. Artillery destroyed the battlefield and made moving next to impossible, this layed the stage for easy pickings by machine gun. I believe if it wasnt for artillery, machine guns would not of been as lethal as they were. Therefore artillery with its direct and indirect lethality probably has the highest kill rate and indirect cause of death.
I picked Arty.
Virtually all wartime and postwar statistics of wounded and killed state that artillery casualities were at the top. At least because artillery was used in a very large amount in siege like warfare.
Lethality is a good question here, either understood as a "sudden death" or "related death"? Not easy to judge in the latter case since the mortality of combat casualities outreaches the end of hostilities. Another thing is the exact short and long term effects of weapon systems: Can we count a soldier shot at dawn because of suspected disobedience in face of enemy, but at today´s standart regarded as a "menthal casuality" due to shellshock? Ok, this is a bit provoking. By it´s effects lethal gas theoretically could have been the major killer, but it never was as it´s deployment was far from effective and anti gas measures developed very quickly.
The WWI soldiers themselves, limited as their judgement would have been beyond personal and collective experience, would have picked the flame thrower as the most lethal weapon, even if just a fraction of all, say western front, combatants ever encountered one. But when facing or using one most accounts state that there is no chance for even an injured victim.
Prewar military theorists ansd drill sergeants were obsessed of bayonett charges and those blades were becoming longer as the rifles were reduced to carbine length. In reality there were very few occasions of close combat with fixed bayonetts, but as usual casualtity rates are mostly high when that happend.
So, is lethality judged by the factor of the weapon´s employment and casuality rate or by the weapon´s contribution in percentage of a war´s total casualities? Hmm, I tend toward the flamethrower or close combat weapons now...
As a big GW fan I have read dozens of books on it. Its pretty well established that artillery killed the majority of those in the GW. Its a fact really. It accoutns for why of those killed in the GW only half the bodies were found, of those they found, only half of those could be indentified. The artillery barrages were so intense it liquidated soliders instantly in so many cases. Verdun is a good example. Arty not only prior to an attack but so intence on places liek Douamont where now this fort looks like prehistoric caves. Only in some battles like the Somme where the British had staggering losses due to machine gun fire do we see a real lopsided kill ratio for soemthing other than arty. Canadas success in Vimy showed innovation in many ways for trench warfare, but the barrage still set the stage for that victory. In fact the barrage was so successful it beat the land up so bad the Can Corps coudlnt mnove its guns forward to exploit an even bigger gain.
I suppose I could question what is meant by LETHAL? I mean as a fact, arty killed more, and really.. considering it obliterated you to unrecognizable bits... its not the most painful way to go compared to gas, but having no grave is a bad enough fate for eternity as well...
No doubt about it -Arty was the most lethal. Just imagine being on the receiving end of some of the average heavy stuff like the 9.45" "Flying Pig" and so on for a week or more during your Bn's turn in the line.
Machine guns were deadly but mainly caused large numbers of casualties where barbed wire and other obstacles channeled the attackers into KZ's or the attackers had long stretches of open ground (The Somme) to cover with inadequate support - from arty of course !
Chem attacks were often launched from arty of one sort or another - Stokes Guns and other mortars for example - and perhaps should be treated as another nature of arty ? Regardless, well trained and equipped troops didn't have much to worry about from chem attack after 2nd Ypres when it was still a surprise.
FT's were not easy to move up and dangerous to operate. Deadly to be sure, but just try to schlep that kit, especially the 2 man version around on ground like Passchendaele or Verdun once it rained. Possible yes - but no fun at all !
I voted for Machineguns simply because that was the new toy that nations invented WITHOUT changing their tactics.
Machinegun lays waste to solid line infantry if they try to charge at them on the open ground so in short MGs jammed the whole battlefield into a stalemate. In a stalemate situation both sides started to spam Artillery to destroy their MGs and positions for a sudden assault.
Then comes Snipers and combat gas- then finally brits came up with tanks that were virtually unstoppable without anti tank weapons. I vote MGs to be the most larger killer of the first world war.
Most lethal would be the high command of the British
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