Via the US Library of Congress, this fantastic simple British recruiting poster from 1915.
Really fantastic handdrawn typography and an eye for proportions. A classic of the type.
The whole Library of Congress WW1 Poster Collection is fantastic and well worth a browse. WW1 and post-WW1 posters from all over the world, not just the English-speaking world. Even better, copyright has long expired on almost all of these items across most of the world, so you can re-use them for your own purposes if you like.
“The importance assumed by trench warfare… have rendered necessary special instructions in the details of trench construction and trench fighting.” — Ch1:1, Notes
This is a modern facsimile reprint of an official 1916 British War Office publication, published by Naval & Military Press. You can find scanned PDF versions of this document online, but I took advantage of NMP’s Easter sale to get a printed version very, very cheaply. It’s a small paperback, roughly 7″x5″ and 78 pages long. (I talked about my experience ordering from NMP previously.)
It was compiled by the British General Staff in March 1916 as a training and reference guide for, as the title says, officers in the trenches of the Western Front. The five chapters comprise an introduction, a long chapter on the construction and maintenance of trenches, the daily routine of trench warfare, defending trenches, and finally the attack in trench warfare. The book finishes off with a couple of appendices, thirty-five diagrams, and a short index.
The writers repeatedly remind the reader that trench warfare is “only a phase of operations“, and that “(t)he aim of trench fighting is, therefore, to create a favourable situation for field operations, which the troops must be capable of turning to account.” While this is technically true, it took until the last few months of the war in late 1918 to come true, and remember that Notes was published in March of 1916 — that trench-bound “phase of operations” lasted nearly two and a half years…
From a wargamer’s point of view, there are two major ways that books like this are valuable. The first is for period flavour and scenario inspiration; something as simple as knowing how a trench network was laid out or the basics of how it could be attacked or defended can inspire a scenario. Small details like the note in the appendix on communication on not routinely taking field telephones right up to the forwardmost trenches, lest the trench be rushed and the enemy able to tap into the field telephone network without anyone being the wiser back at headquarters could inspire quite detailed trench-raid scenarios, with more detailed and more interesting objectives than simply “kill the other guy”.
The second (and related, of course) way this type of book is useful to wargamers comes mostly in those 35 or so diagrams in the back of this little booklet. If you’re considering building trench scenery or fieldworks of any sort, knowing the “standard” ways the British Army expected things to be done is obviously valuable. The diagrams cover frontline, support, and communication trenches, various sorts of dugouts, several types of machine-gun nest, wire and obstacles, and more. If you’re going to pull a Roundwood and build up a bunch of trench boards, this inexpensive little booklet could be a valuable starting point.
Note that there is also a May 1917 version of this booklet, with exactly the same title, but printed by the American War Department as they geared up to finally join the Great War. As far as I can tell the text is largely identical to the earlier British edition discussed above, but the value of the later American version is the hugely expanded number of diagrams in the back. The book has gone up to about 160 pages from 75 or so, and a huge amount of that is new diagrams. You can download a good, complete PDF of the War Department version over on the US Army’s Combined Arms Research Library website – Notes for Infantry Officers on Trench Warfare 1917. To get the PDF version easily, use the blue “Download” button on the far right-hand side of the screen.
A miscelania of links, just so I get back into the habit of posting here!
Adventures of the 19XX is a pulptastic webcomic, full of zeppelins, giant airplanes, mystical oddness and villainy. Good fun, great art, and quite likely to inspire pulp gaming scenarios! (Warning: autoplaying music when the site loads…)
If you’re looking for inspiration for Great War/WW1 terrain, check this amazing Lead Adventure Forum thread out – thejammedgatling’s First World War Terrain Boards – it’s a long thread of a project that’s been a year+ in the running so far, but well worth it.
If you’ve never heard of the Internet Archive, it’s a huge and sprawling website full of all sorts of material. Probably the most famous section is the “Wayback Machine“, an attempt to collect, curate and archive huge swathes of the internet. Looking for an interesting old wargaming website, perhaps one hosted on Geocities or another vanished host? Fire the old URL into the Wayback Machine, you’ll probably find something!
What I’m focusing on for this article, though, is the Texts side of the Archive. It’s an attempt to preserve, digitize and distribute huge numbers of old and new books, and make them available in as many formats as possible. Google (through Google Books), Microsoft and dozens of university, public and national libraries are involved. The collection is already millions of books and still growing rapidly. It can be hard to find things, though, which is one of the reasons I started writing this article — it began simply as a list of interesting Archive.org URLs I wanted to save for future reference in case I couldn’t find the same books again!
The Great War On Archive.org
I make no claims to have here a comprehensive list of the era’s books and publications available on the Internet Archive, but what follows is a sometimes arbitrary list of items that caught my eye!
There’s a whole bunch of official publications of various sorts, mostly American but a few British as well. Of particular note for Great War gamers is Instructions for the Training of Platoons for Offensive Action, 1917 – this is an American re-publication of a famous British military manual. Straight from the source, as it were. A good chunk of the British background material in the back of Mud & Blood is straight from Training of Platoons, as are several of the scenarios presented in the Stout Hearts & Iron Troopers supplement.
Many of the rest of these books are published by civilian publishers; the main market seems to have been American officers in the newly-raised American Expeditionary Forces and to a lesser extent new officers of other nations. There was a certain amount of repetition and even flat-out plagarism in this market; some of the authors also regurgitate chunks of Training of Platoons straight into their own books.
Trench Fighting (1917) is a British book, noteworthy mostly for lots of good diagrams.
Tactics and Duties for Trench Fighting (1918) – One French and one American author, both infantry officers, longer book but written to be easy to read, lots of interesting details that could inspire scenarios.
Probably the most useful format to get these books in is PDF, especially as that preserves the original diagrams, illustrations and page layout better than any of the other formats the Internet Archive offers. Most books have a link straight to the PDFs on the left of the page; some (especially the ones via Google Books) don’t. The Google Books ones are especially frustrating, as going to the Google Books page does not actually give you an obvious link to the PDF file. Those PDFs are still in the Internet Archive, though – instead of going to Google Books, click the “All Files: HTTP” link at the bottom of the left-hand box, then look for the .pdf file on the resulting basic index page. Voila, the PDF, without messing around!
The prize find there, at least for a Mud & Blood player, has to be Instructions for the Offensive Combat of Small Units (Direct PDF link), which is a mid-1918 American adaptation of a French tactical guide. Training of Platoons, way up at the top of this article, was a British publication simply reprinted by the Americans; this one is extensively rewritten to use American tactical formations (the AEF used much larger units than either the French or British did by 1917/1918). Nice illustrations and diagrams, too.
There are almost certainly other interesting resources tucked away in the CARL files; I’ll keep looking and either update this articele or write a followup at some point in the future.
There’s also Druid_ian on Scribd but all his content is straight from the Internet Archive or the US Army sources listed above, just uploaded into Scribd’s sometimes useful but mostly frustrating interface. He has discovered some interesting documents buried in these sources, although note that only people who sign up for Scribd accounts may download from Scribd. Search for the same titles at IA or CARL and you won’t have to sign up for yet another website…
A number of these books are available on paper from various sources – search Amazon for them. I have no idea of the quality of these reprints; I prefer to keep my money for figures and scenery where I can! There are a number of good collections of trench maps and of course Great War/WW1 photography out there, but that’s for another article, this one is already long enough!
Found something interesting on the Internet Archive, the Obsolete Military Manuals collection or elsewhere? Leave me a comment below and I’ll add it to the article!
Week Five of the LAF’s Lead Painters League having just ended, here’s my entry. This was one of the bonus theme weeks; the bonus theme this time was “Africa”, with extra bonus points for producing an opposing team as well as your basic 5-figure entry.
I completely forgot about the extra bonus points for an opposing team, but that wouldn’t have mattered as I’ve no suitable figures anyway. I did manage to shoehorn the tropical British I’ve been painting in, as British and British Empire troops spent the entire length of the Great War chasing Paul von Lettow-Vorbek around various East African territories. They never caught him, he surrended shortly after the November 11 Armistice undefeated in the field.
Unfortunately my British riflemen got done for by a group of zombie nomads on zombie camels, but I’m still pleased with the paintjob on them and the photograph.
The larger base they’re on, incidentially, is a CD covered in sand and fine gravel, then painted to mostly match the bases of the British and some of the other figures I’ve been doing lately.