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The first British fatality of World War I

Discussion in 'World History' started by householder, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. householder

    householder Lord of the Fleas

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    No one can be really sure what happened to Private John Parr. He was part of a screen of bicycle scouts who were sent ahead of the British Army as it moved cautiously into southern Belgium on 21 August 1914.

    What a lark it must have been for the young men in khaki as they bumped over the cobbles of the dreary mining villages north of Mons. What a shock they must have had when they ran into the grey ranks of General Alexander von Kluck's German First Army. The British top brass knew that the Germans were approaching but had no idea that they had moved so far and so fast.

    And what a shock it must have been to the Germans that evening when they collided with John Parr and his mates. Despite the existence of military aeroplanes and the telegraph, and even the telephone, the German top brass had no idea that the British Army was already in northern France, let alone Belgium.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...ments-the-first-british-fatality-9241147.html

    He got off from his bicycle to provide cover for the other men in his unit, who pedaled off to spread the warning that the Germans were coming. He was 17 years old, having lied about his age to join the army the year before.
     

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  2. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Bumble Bee

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    It is funny how they all wear police hats.
    Must have been mighty proud to wear those hats.
     
  3. householder

    householder Lord of the Fleas

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    If you are going to war, you want to look stylish. Granted, those caps don't seem to offer much protection from enemy fire.
     
  4. Kozmos

    Kozmos Jew Detective

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    Well most helmets today even don't. Serves well against shrapnel though which is something I guesss.
     
  5. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    Actually, most modern helmets are rated to NIJ Level IIIa, which means they'll stop a lot of shrapnel (one of the main threats) and almost any pistol round, though admittedly those are rare on modern battlefields. The latest Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) has even reportedly stopped rifle rounds in testing.



    I ought to do some more updates on that armor thread of mine before I go. Maybe this week(end).
     
  6. MilesGregarius

    MilesGregarius Half-baked Renegade

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    The original introduction of helmets in WWI was specifically to counter the high number of casualties due to head wounds brought about by the nature of trench warfare and the effects of artillery bursts. Stopping a bullet was not originally an objective, though given enough range, a helmet could blunt the impact of rifle rounds that had lost some velocity.
     
  7. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    Well, yes. It's only recently that more than a few helmets have been designed to stop some kinds of modern firearms. That's not their primary goal, but the fact that most helmets these days are rated NIJ Level IIIA shows that they can stop a 240-grain .44 Magnum SJHP at 1,430 fps. The new ECH can apparently stop 7.62x39mm rounds from an AK-47, though I can't find the details of the test.

    Interestingly, the WWI Brodie was required to stop a 230-grain cupro-nickel jacketed .45 ACP bullet travelling at 600 fps. 600 fps is slow even for a .45, at least at the muzzle, but I don't know how they measured bullet velocity back then. Of course, its main goal was protection from shrapnel. Bullet protection was a bonus that wasn't counted on. The .45 test round may have been a controllable, repeatable stand-in for shrapnel testing.

    I could go on, but I don't want to Poland, so I'll save it for the armor thread.
     
  8. MilesGregarius

    MilesGregarius Half-baked Renegade

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    I've occasionally wondered, if it weren't for the nature of trench warfare, would it have taken even longer to introduce helmets as the standard headgear for combatants?
     
  9. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    As you said, helmets were reintroduced because of all the men getting maimed and killed by all the shrapnel flying around, more so than in previous wars. If artillery were less common on the battlefield, they might not have had much of an impetus to adopt helmets, and armies tend to be conservative in adopting new technology.
     
  10. MilesGregarius

    MilesGregarius Half-baked Renegade

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    Even with the growing dominance of artillery, would there have been a perceived need for helmets if WWI had stayed mobile longer so that said shrapnel wounds were less concentrated on the tops of the heads of men otherwise protected by being huddled in trenches?
     
  11. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    An interesting question. I don't know. I've looked around for various statistics on wounds by body part for soldiers in modern times, but never for WWI. There are probably some out there, though they probably wouldn't say whether the men were in the open or the trenches when they were hit. Throughout more mobile wars of the time like the Second Boer War, the Spanish-American War, the Balkan Wars, and others, very few people had ever really bothered with helmets. And even in some of the wars in southern Africa in the late 20th century, like Rhodesia and Angola/SWA, both sides often skipped helmets.
     
  12. MilesGregarius

    MilesGregarius Half-baked Renegade

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    Yeah, I don't have any statistics myself, but I read eons ago that once the trench lines formed, head injuries became a growing percentage of all injuries, thus spurring the introduction of helmets. I'm afraid I read that too long ago to have any reference for it, though.

    Similarly, I read that there were investigations into the number of enemy combatants shot in the head by Marines in Fallujah. Early concerns (allegations?) of war crimes were explained by the nature of the terrain and the quality of Marine marksmanship - often the only target presented in an urban firefight would be a head popping up over or around a wall or framed in a window.

    [EDIT: Just found this on Wikipedia's Brodie Helmet page]


     

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