This seemingly small conflict between two countries spread rapidly: Western and eastern fronts quickly opened along the borders of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The Western and Eastern Fronts The first month of combat consisted of bold attacks and rapid troop movements on both fronts.
British military men first used leather wristlets to wear small pocket watches on their wrists from circa Following on from this early experience, they were the first large group or section of the population to routinely wear purpose made wristwatches. The Great War was the first time in British Army history that battles were conducted by generals in remote field headquarters from where they could not see the front line.
Army units deployed across the vast fields of battle had difficulty communicating with headquarters. The execution of orders and coordination of manoeuvres and attacks by timing was vital. Whereas in earlier conflicts a unit could time its movements visually by watching for signals or simply keeping watch on units on its flanks and advancing as they moved, in the Great War the front was too wide for these methods to be effective.
Instead, timing was used, e. Click image to enlarge. The importance of watches during the Great War is emphasised by the extract reproduced here from the British War Office document "Instructions for the Training of Divisions for Offensive Action.
A later section of the same document gives instructions for this; "All officers must acquire the habit of checking their watches daily with the official time, which can be obtained from the Signal Service.
Commanders must pay special attention to this point during training. Officers were expected to purchase a wristwatch using some of the allowance that they were given to purchase their kit; uniform, sword, revolver, etc.
Although wristwatches had been worn by civilian men before the Great War for special purposes, e. During the war the army expanded dramatically and large numbers of new recruits were exposed to the sight of officers routinely wearing wristwatches.
Officers were emboldened by their service at the front to continue wearing their wristwatches when they were home on leave, whereas before the war they might have hidden them away. The sight of battle hardened veterans on leave from the fighting at the front and wearing wristwatches soon swept away the idea that wearing a wristwatch was effeminate and created a fashion that spread through wider society in Britain.
Most trench watches were purpose made as wristwatches. Purpose made men's wristwatches were available from at least the early s.
Conversions of fob watches into wristwatches occurred at the start of the Great War in This was due to lack of supply of wristwatches to fill the demand of newly commissioned officers who were eager to get kitted out and get to the front before they missed all the action — in it was thought that the war would be over by Christmas.
There was a huge demand for officer's kit at the start of the Great War. Officers advertised in The Times newspaper for revolvers, field glasses and wristwatches. A "Proper Wristwatch" Thresher and Glenny advert The advert shown here by Thresher and Glenny, a gentlemen's outfitters specialising in officer's uniforms and military outfits, shows the epitome of style for a newly commissioned officer during the Great War; a smart turnout, and a wristwatch.
The eminent military historian Dr. Spencer Jones told me that "The phrase a 'proper wristwatch' to denote a smart looking officer had certainly emerged by summer It was not until near the end of the war that the British War Department started experimenting with wristwatches, which I discuss further down this page.
Expansion of the Army At the start of the Great War the British Army was relatively small, in it numbered aroundmen, leading the German Kaiser Wilhelm II to describe it as a "contemptible little army", after which the British soldiers ironically referred to themselves as "the old contemptibles".
Even if all of these soldiers had worn wristwatches, it would have taken a long time before the rest of British society noticed.
It was the Great War the first World War or World War One, - that ultimately legitimised the man's wristwatch and, because of the huge numbers of men involved, ensured that men wearing wristwatches were seen widely by the general public back home in Britain.
Robert Graves, the war poet, joined up in soon after the war started, taking a commission in the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
In May he was sent to the front in France. On joining his new company at the front he was briefed by Captain Dunn the commander of "C" company. Graves remarks in his autobiography "Goodbye to All That" that after explaining the usual daily routine of inspections, sentry duty etc.Sep 19, · You can directly support Crash Course at benjaminpohle.com Subscribe for as little as $0 to keep up with everything we're doing.
Free is ni. Trench warfare on the Western Front may have captured the popular imagination, but the First World War was very much a maritime conflict as well.
The definitive and dramatic history of World War I’s forgotten front. On August 7, , Britain fired its first shots of World War I not in Europe but in the German colony of Togo. The Medical Front, WWI - all medical aspects, military and civilian, of World War One, the Great War, including the Flu Pandemic of world war i.
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