Virtual tour 12 - Artillery

Artillery played an important part in World War I. The Third Battle of Ypres began with a two week artillery bombardment, during which more than four million projectiles were launched. The field of action and its important shelters all were destroyed during the shelling. Only the concrete bunkers, the targets for destruction, remained intact. The complex drainage system was also totally knocked down, which meant that any spell of heavy rain would turn the soil into an impenetrable swamp.

Object 1: Blau-kreuz projectiel

The Germans began to deploy their Blau-kreuz projectile on July 11th 1917. These shells were filled with a gas which caused vomiting and irritated the nose and eyes, making it necessary to remove gas masks. When used together with phosgene gas, a deadly effect was produced. (MMP1917, MZ 12683)


Object 2: Shrapnel

One of the most feared weapons since the start of the war is shrapnel, a type of shell named after the inventor of the first exploding shell, Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842). A shell like this consists of a metal case with several bullets inside. A timing mechanism inside the detonator then opens up the projectile just before it hits its target. The ceiling shows how the charge of lead or steel bullets spreads after ejection. Many soldiers suffer head injuries because of it, prompting both sides to introduce steel helmets from 1915. (MMP1917, MZ 11389)