What Weapons Were Used in Trench Warfare?


Quick Answer

The primary weapons used during trench warfare were bayonets, rifles and hand grenades. Other weapons used included machine guns, artillery, tanks, mortars and deadly poison gas.

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Full Answer

During the First World War, the German forces were pushed back by Allied forces during the First Battle of Marne. They subsequently "dug in" to defend. Allied forces followed suit when they were unable to break through the defending line, which led to trench warfare. Weapons such as pistols and pump-action shotguns were used primarily by trench sweepers, who were infantry forces selected to invade trenches. These trench sweepers also favored sharpened digging spades over bayonets because of the bayonet's tendency to get stuck inside its victim.

In order to break the stalemate at the front, German forces released large amounts of poison chlorine gas to drift over the trenches. Even though many soldiers died as a result, the gas attacks were not enough to break the stalemate. Better technology had to be developed, and in 1914, the British began development of the first tanks. At first, the tanks proved ineffective because of the relatively small number fielded and the fact that they often got stuck inside artillery craters. However, later designs proved much more effective, and by using these tanks, Allied forces were finally able to break the stalemate. This success resulted in an armistice signed on Nov. 11, 1918.

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