Trumpeter William Sawers (Royal Field Artillary)

William Sawers

William Sawers was born in 1888 at Cowcadden, Glasgow.

William had previously been a volunteer for the Militia from 1905 and was an Upholsterer by trade and not married at this point.

Records show that William signed for the Royal Field Artillery in May 1908 and agreeing a further 2+1 years service.

William married Agnes Smith on the 7th of September in 1912 and his daughter Agnes Hunter Simpson Sawers was born on the 5th of December in 1912.

Trumpeter William Sawers served during pre-war training camps and also agreed on overseas service.

Confirmation on War services includes 5th of August 1914 to the 31st of May 1915 with the Mediterranean Expeditionary force in Gallipoli via Egypt.

The brave trumpeter was awarded the 1914 and 1915 Territorial Forces Star, The British War Medal, and the Victory medal for his services to the British Armed Forces.

William served a total of 7 years in service, serving as a trumpeter before being appointed as a driver for The Royal Artillery.

During July 1915 William was in Hospital for injuries and had 14 teeth extracted but remarkably returned to service to rejoin his unit only two weeks later.

After receiving injuries and returning to War, William was admitted back to the hospital on the 30th of October 1915.

William was diagnosed with Jaundice and died of Pneumonia on October 30th, 1915 aged only 27 on board the ship Kildonan Castle.

There’s a grave doon in the water that we ken we’ll never see,

There’s a picture hanging up that brings the saut tear tae orr e’e,

For noo we’ll never see him mair, so he alone we sit,

Wi only this comfort, that he did his little bit, With arching hearts, we shook his hand,

Tears glistened in our eyes;

We wished him luck,

but never thought It was our last good-bye.

No green grass grows above his head, Nor over his grave a tear we shed;

French Navy

French Navy of World War 1

At the outbreak of the First World War France had 19 battleships, 32 cruisers, 86 destroyers, 34 submarines, and 115 torpedo boats.

During the Dardanelles operation, the French Navy sent four battleships, six destroyers, and submarines. The battleship Bovet and four submarines were lost during this campaign.

The French Navy kept to the Mediterranean so the British Navy could recall most of her capital ships to the North Atlantic to counter the German fleet.

Following the 1904 Anglo-French Entente Cordiale, the French Navy policy was to concentrate its forces in the Mediterranean against a likely Italian-Austrian coalition, while maintaining a mainly defensive position in the north (North Sea, English Channel, Atlantic coast) where the Royal Navy would predominate.

French forces in this area initially included seven cruisers and a number of destroyers, torpedo boats, and submarines for patrol duty in the western English Channel.

In the Mediterranean on the other hand was the 1st Armée Navale under the command of Adm de Lapeyrère

French Army

French Army of World War 1

During World War I, France was one of the Triple Entente powers allied against the Central Powers.

Although fighting occurred worldwide, the bulk of the fighting in Europe occurred in Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Alsace-Lorraine along what came to be known as the Western Front, which consisted mainly of trench warfare.

Specific operational, tactical, and strategic decisions by the high command on both sides of the conflict led to shifts in organizational capacity, as the French Army tried to respond to day-to-day fighting and long-term strategic and operational agendas.

In particular, many problems caused the French high command to re-evaluate standard procedures, revise its command structures, re-equip the army, and to develop different tactical approaches.

Over the course of the First World War, another five field armies would be raised.

The war scare led to another 2.9 million men being mobilized in the summer of 1914 and the costly battles on the Western Front forced France to conscript men up to the age of 45.

This was done by the mobilization in 1914 of the Territorial Army and its reserves; comprising men who had completed their peacetime service with the active and reserve armies (ages 20–34).

In June 1915, the Allied countries met in the first inter-Allied conference.

Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, and Russia agreed to coordinate their attacks but the attempts were frustrated by German offensives on the Eastern Front and spoiling offensives at Ypres and in the hills west of Verdun.

By 1918, towards the end of the war, the composition and structure of the French army had changed. Forty percent of all French soldiers on the Western Front were operating artillery and 850,000 French troops were infantry in 1918, compared to 1.5 million in 1915.

Causes for the drop in infantry include increased machine guns, armored cars, and tank usage, as well as the increasing significance of the French air force, the Service Aéronautique.

At the end of the war on November 11, 1918, the French had called up 8,817,000 men, including 900,000 colonial troops.

The French army suffered around 6 million casualties, including 1.4 million dead and 4.2 million wounded, roughly 71% of those who fought.

The French Airforce

French Airforce of World War 1

French military aviation was born in 1909.

After the approval of the law by the French National Assembly on 29 March 1912,

French Military Aeronautics became officially part of the French Army, alongside the four traditional branches of the French Army, the infantry, cavalry, artillery, and engineers.

French aircraft during World War I, flying over German-held territory, 1915 France was one of the first states to start building aircraft.

At the beginning of World War I, France had a total of 148 planes (8 from French Naval Aviation (aéronautique Navale) and 15 airships.

By the time of the armistice in November 1918, 3608 planes were in service.

5,500 pilots and observers were killed from the 17,300 engaged in the conflict, amounting to 31% of endured losses.

A 1919 newspaper report reports the French Air Force had a 61% percent war loss.

Great Britain & Empire

Great Britain in World War One

Great Britain entered the First World War due to the German’s violation of the Treaty of London (1839) in defense of Belgium Neutrality.

The tension between Great Britain and Germany had been rising for some time due to the determination of the Germans to rival the United Kingdom’s dominance in its Navy.

The Germans invaded Belgium on the way through to France in 1914 with the British protesting against Germany regarding their obligations of the treaty.

German Foreign Minister Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg

referred to the treaty as a ” Mere scrap of paper” and could not believe Britain was entering the War.

With the treaty being almost 100 years old the Germans did not expect the British to stand by their pledge.

The British Army had sustained substantial losses in the Horror and July 1st, 1916 in The Battle of the Somme and regarded as the worst disaster in the History of the British Army.

But as the war unfolded this paved a new way for a new type of warfare and an inspiration for new technology and weapons in a modern war that led to victory which was finally achieved in 1918.

The Royal Navy

The Royal Flying Corps

The British Army

 

Entente Powers

Royal Flying Corps

The Royal Flying Corps of World War 1

During the early part of the war, the RFC supported the British Army by artillery co-operation and photographic reconnaissance.

This work gradually led RFC pilots into aerial battles with German pilots and later in the war included the strafing of enemy infantry and emplacements, the bombing of German military airfields, and later the strategic bombing of German industrial and transport facilities.

At the start of World War I the RFC, commanded by Brigadier-General Sir David Henderson, consisted of five squadrons – one observation balloon squadron (RFC No 1 Squadron) and four airplane squadrons.

These were first used for aerial spotting on 13 September 1914 but only became efficient when they perfected the use of wireless communication at Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915.

Aerial photography was attempted during 1914, but again only became effective the next year. By 1918, photographic images could be taken from 15,000 feet and were interpreted by over 3,000 personnel.

Parachutes were not available to pilots of heavier-than-air craft in the RFC – nor were they used by the RAF during the First World War – although the Calthrop Guardian Angel parachute (1916 model) was officially adopted just as the war ended.

By this time parachutes had been used by balloonists for three years.

On 17 August 1917, South African General Jan Smuts presented a report to the War Council on the future of airpower.

Because of its potential for the ‘devastation of enemy lands and the destruction of industrial and populous centers on a vast scale’, he recommended a new air service be formed that would be on a level with the Army and Royal Navy.

The formation of the new service would also make the under-used men and machines of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) available for action on the Western Front and end the inter-service rivalries that at times had adversely affected aircraft procurement.

On 1 April 1918, the RFC and the RNAS were amalgamated to form a new service, the Royal Air Force (RAF), under the control of the new Air Ministry.

After starting in 1914 with some 2,073 personnel, by the start of 1919, the RAF had 4,000 combat aircraft and 114,000 personnel in some 150 squadrons.

Entente Powers

The British Army

The British Army during World War 1

The British Army The British Army during World War I fought the largest and most costly war in its long history.

Unlike the French and German Armies, the British Army was made up exclusively of volunteers—as opposed to conscripts—at the beginning of the conflict.

Furthermore, the British Army was considerably smaller than its French and German counterparts.

Men of the Wiltshire Regiment attacking near Thiepval, 7 August 1916, during the Battle of the Somme.

During World War I, there were four distinct British armies.

The first comprised approximately 247,000 soldiers of the regular army, over half of which were posted overseas to garrison the British Empire, supported by some 210,000 reserves and a potential 60,000 additional reserves.

This component formed the backbone of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), which was formed for service in France and became known as the Old Contemptibles.

The second army was provided by the approximately 246,000-strong Territorial Force, initially allocated to home defence but used to reinforce the BEF after the regular army suffered heavy losses in the opening battles of the war.

The third army was Kitchener’s Army, comprising men who answered Lord Kitchener’s call for volunteers in 1914–1915 and which went into action at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

The fourth army was the reinforcement of existing formations with conscripts after the introduction of compulsory service in January 1916.

By the end of 1918, the British Army had reached its maximum strength of 3,820,000 men and could field over 70 divisions.

The vast majority of the British Army fought in the main theatre of war on the Western Front in France and Belgium against the German Empire.

Some units were engaged in Italy and Salonika against Austria-Hungary and the Bulgarian Army, while other units fought in the Middle East,

Africa and Mesopotamia—mainly against the Ottoman Empire—and one battalion fought alongside the Japanese Army in China during the Siege of Tsingtao.

The war also posed problems for the army commanders, given that, prior to 1914, the largest formation any serving General in the BEF had commanded on operations was a division.

The expansion of the British Army saw some officers promoted from brigade to corps commander in less than a year.

Army commanders also had to cope with the new tactics and weapons that were developed. With the move from manoeuvre to trench warfare, both the infantry and the artillery had to learn how to work together.

During an offensive, and when in defence, they learned how to combine forces to defend the front line. Later in the war, when the Machine Gun Corps and the Tank Corps were added to the order of battle, they were also included in the new tactical doctrine.

The men at the front had to struggle with supply problems–there was a shortage of food; and disease was rife in the damp, rat-infested conditions.

Along with enemy action, many soldiers had to contend with new diseases: trench foot, trench fever and trench nephritis.

When the war ended in November 1918, British Army casualties, as the result of enemy action and disease, were recorded as 673,375 killed and missing, with another 1,643,469 wounded. The rush to demobilise at the end of the conflict substantially decreased the strength of the British Army, from its peak strength of 3,820,000 men in 1918 to 370,000 men by 1920.

The Royal Navy

The Royal Navy during World War 1

During the First World War, the Royal Navy’s strength was mostly deployed at home in the Grand Fleet, confronting the German High Seas Fleet across the North Sea.

Several inconclusive clashes took place between them, chiefly the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

The British numerical advantage proved insurmountable, leading the High Seas Fleet to abandon any attempt to challenge British dominance.

Elsewhere in the world, the Navy hunted down the handful of German surface raiders at large.

During the Dardanelles Campaign against the Ottoman Empire in 1915, it suffered heavy losses during a failed attempt to break through the system of minefields and shore batteries defending the straits.

Upon entering the war, the Navy had immediately established a blockade of Germany.

The Navy’s Northern Patrol closed off access to the North Sea, while the Dover Patrol closed off access to the English Channel.

The Navy also mined the North Sea.

As well as closing off the Imperial German Navy’s access to the Atlantic, the blockade largely blocked neutral merchant shipping heading to or from Germany.

The blockade was maintained during the eight months after the armistice was agreed to force Germany to end the war and sign the Treaty of Versailles.

The most serious menace faced by the Navy came from the attacks on merchant shipping mounted by German U-boats.

For much of the war this submarine campaign was restricted by prize rules requiring merchant ships to be warned and evacuated before sinking. 

In 1915, the Germans renounced these restrictions and began to sink merchant ships on sight, but later returned to the previous rules of engagement to placate neutral opinion.

A resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 raised the prospect of Britain and its allies being starved into submission.

The Navy’s response to this new form of warfare had proved inadequate due to its refusal to adopt a convoy system for merchant shipping, despite the demonstrated effectiveness of the technique in protecting troop ships. 

The belated introduction of convoys sharply reduced losses and brought the U-boat threat under control.