1914-1918: Engineers at War
The First World War is an event that is sadly burned into the history books of the world, and recently a variety of world leaders came together to commemorate the date when Britain first joined the conflict; a moment in time that took place a century ago.
Naturally, the First World War is an infamous event, rather than a famous one, yet that doesn’t mean that this global tragedy brought no positive changes to the fore, and one of the areas we’re especially interested in is the sphere of engineering.
Engineers were really at the crux of WW1 problem-solving, and it is no understatement to claim that the war effort would have been futile without them. For example, the Royal Engineers were instrumental when ensuring that…
- The armies were properly supplied: the Royal Engineers kept supply routes open and accessible for as many forms of transport as possible.
- Transport didn’t grind to a halt: a natural progression from the above point, operational transport was largely down to the efforts of engineers.
- Communications remained intact: telephones, wireless equipment and signalling devices were all the province of skilled engineers.
- Infantry received adequate cover: Royal Engineers constructed fortification and artillery positions; without them there would have been no ‘front-line’.
- Weaponry was maintained: nobody approves of guns and other wartime devices, but they were a necessary evil in WW1. Without engineers, such systems wouldn’t have been usable.
- Responsive innovations were developed: every time a new threat loomed large – such as underground warfare or chemical bombardment – it was the engineers who were called upon to solve the problem.
WW1 brought about a number of technical changes, and some of them, such as…
- Mobile x-ray machines
- Aircraft carriers
- Sanitary napkins
- Underwater microphones
…have clearly changed the world for the better. Of course, engineering as a discipline has kicked on from there at an impressive and varied rate, resulting in ingenious products like our Boston Gear range, but even so it is still fitting to take a moment to step back, and view the historical achievements of bygone engineers.
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