The Great War in Color: Vibrant Portraits of Courage and Conflict

April 26, 2024

Using Makeshift Periscopes to Gain Advantage at the Battle of the Somme

The First World War was one of the most devastating conflicts in human history. Spanning from 1914 to 1918, it shattered empires and took about 40 million military and civilian lives. From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the brutal trench warfare on the Western Front, the war saw the rise of many figures like General John J. Pershing and the Red Baron. Today, we'll take a look at some of the astounding moments from this tragic event.

Getty Images

The Battle of the Somme, fought from July 1 to November 18, 1916, was one of the most bloody battles in World War I. Started as a joint British and French offensive against German forces entrenched along the Western Front, the battle tried to relieve pressure on the French at Verdun and break through enemy lines.

During the Battle of the Somme's trench warfare, soldiers used improvised periscopes to stay safe and watch for enemies. Originally for ships, periscopes were changed for land battles.

In the narrow trenches where soldiers were always at risk from snipers and bombs, these improvised periscopes became very important. They sat on top of the trench and let soldiers peek at the enemy without being seen. This meant soldiers could check for enemies without risking their lives. Soldiers could move their periscopes around to see everywhere. The periscope's mirrors and lenses made it easy to scan the area, helping soldiers spot any danger coming their way.

The Disappearance of German Pilot Richard Scholl in September 1918

wikimedia commons

Richard Scholl was a German pilot whose story is both intriguing and mysterious. In September of 1918, during the last days of World War I, Scholl went on a routine reconnaissance mission over enemy territory. However, fate had other plans, and Scholl never returned.

His disappearance sparked a flurry of inquiries, yet the truth remains elusive even to this day. Some believe he fell victim to enemy fire, while others speculate that he may have been shot down and taken as a prisoner of war. Despite exhaustive searches and investigations, no trace of Scholl was ever found.