This week we have another stereoscope card form the Great War to look at. As has been mentioned before, the makers of Stereoscope cards wanted dramatic images to help sell their wares. The views needed to have depth to them to give the viewer the 3D look that was the whole reason for buying the card and if possible the subject needed to include figures to give it a human interest appeal. The Great War offered the opportunity to take these sorts of images in abundance and a massive selection of stereoscope cards were produced from various different manufacturers. Today’s card certainly fits in with this requirement and depicts a gun crew around a heavy artillery piece:
The main focus of the image is, of course, the heavy artillery piece with its massive carriage and men stood next to it to provide a sense of scale and drama:
The gun is so large that shells need to be hoisted up to its breech, rather than being moved by hand. A metal crane is positioned behind the gun to hold the great weight of the shells and one can be seen hanging in mid air:
This is being manoeuvred by a soldier with a rope and others with chains running through a pulley system to reduce the amount of effort needed to shift the enormous shell:
Note the artillery officer standing to one side and observing the work going on around the gun.
Although the machine gun is often thought of as being the decisive weapon of World War One, in reality it was the artillery that really shaped the conflict on the Western Front. Artillery killed more men than anything else and the number of shells expended was extraordinary. Artillery barrages could last hours and when the dust settled left a pocked and cratered landscape, shattering field drains and leading to the mud that is so characteristic of the World War One battlefield. Artillery had always attracted scientifically minded officers, but the use of artillery during the Great War reached new sophistication with creeping barrages and increased co-operation with aerial assets to allow pin point strikes to be made. With the size of shell seen in this card, it is easy to see how devastating it would if you were on the other end of this barrage!