Military Review

Not only caps have visors

During the First World War, the development of all branches of military engineering equipment and, in particular, field fortification was observed. One of the most interesting questions is the question of the expediency of using “defensive peaks” in the trenches: some military authorities recognized their usefulness, while others denied the expediency of using them.

Of course, speaking of the benefits of using visors, we note that many factors played a role - the conditions of the location of troops, the terrain, the artillery capacities of the enemy, the psychological state of the fighters, etc.

It will be about defensive canopies - i.e., closures of the dugout type, which enable defenders of the trench, hiding behind a canopy from enemy fire, to be able to fire at the front area - through single loopholes or common gaps.

During World War I, Russian troops became very accustomed to visors, building them almost all over the trenches. They were also erected in large quantities during the construction of advance hardened rear positions. But towards the end of the war, voices were increasingly heard against such a massive use of visors, and some of the army commanders and corps commanders not only prohibited the organization of visors, but also ordered to dismantle previously built ones, considering them unnecessary, and in some cases harmful.Order on the troops of the 5 Army from 7 June 1916, No. 575 a - 82).

The main advantage of the defensive canopies as closures was that they enabled defenders of trenches to conduct rifle fire for a long time and at long distances under continuous artillery fire, usually covering the enemy infantry offensive. This circumstance is very important, especially if one takes into account that the enemy’s special artillery fire sometimes lasted until the complete rapprochement of his infantry with the Russian trenches. In the absence of visors (or covered loopholes), the Russian infantry could stand in the line of fire only after the cessation of the actions of the enemy artillery, and until then was forced to hide, lying at the bottom of the trench or being in shelters.

In addition, defensive peaks also provided the following benefits:

A) They sheltered shooters from rifle, machine-gun and shrapnel bullets, from hand grenades, from shell fragments, from small-caliber mines, from aviation arrows and small bombs;

B) They contributed to calm and high-quality shooting (at the beginning of the war, when the visors were rarely used, soldiers often fired, putting a rifle out of the trench and hiding their heads - which is why the bullets flew up) and preserving the cheerfulness of the defenders of the trench - people felt covered up and in relative safety; they saw through the loopholes only a small part of the tears of the enemy shells;

C) Covered from rain, snow and bad weather - so that people could sleep under the canopies and get up at the loopholes on alarm (while they often left the shelters and fox holes reluctantly);

D) Especially proved to be in the forest - where they not only better merged with the surrounding terrain, but also protected from the mass of fragments from trees destroyed by fire;

D) The Russian soldier loved visors and believed in their protection, hardly succumbing to the conviction that the visor would not save the direct hit of a whole shell, but only exacerbate the damage due to its own fragments.

But the visors are inherent and serious shortcomings.

1) When they hit artillery shells, they were destroyed, blocking the trench, which cannot be used until it is cleared. In addition, when the shell hit, the defenders of the trench were amazed by the fragments of logs and poles from the collapsing canopies. Therefore, the peaks are long and continuous throughout the trench.

2) They unmasked the trench from a long distance - attracting enemy fire.

3) Difficult to control platoons and squads, making it difficult to observe people.

4) Difficult air flow, maintaining dampness and stuffiness in the trench.

5) Interfered with the simultaneous withdrawal of all fighters from the trench to counterattack.

6) Demanding a lot of time and materials for its construction, visors did not exclude the need to build shelters and other more solid closures - to protect against enemy projectiles.

Thus, after weighing the advantages and disadvantages of using visors and analyzing the experience of using the latter, it should be noted that it is possible to completely abandon the visors only in a positional war - when the trenches were under constant threat of direct hits by enemy high-explosive and high-explosive shells from close distances (here reliable observation points and shelters for sentries). In a maneuverable field war, when the troops often maneuver, hastily securing the captured space, and when the first line of trenches is almost entirely occupied by arrows (because there are no subsequent lines, shelters, or communications in the rear), direct hits of shells into the trenches are unlikely (the distance to the enemy is not exactly known), but at the same time it is necessary to take shelter from shrapnel bullets and splinters - light visors are quite appropriate, especially if the shooters' heads are not covered with helmets.

Roofs made of thick logs, long and even more so throughout the trench, are most likely harmful and very dangerous for shooters when directly attacked by an enemy projectile. The most useful are the visors covering small areas of the trenches, on 2 - 3 people each, pursuing the goal - to cover the observers and excellent shooters operating during enemy artillery preparation attacks (the majority of the defenders during artillery preparation hide in shelters).

A particularly important issue is the quality masking of visors. And here the troops came to the aid of the paint-masking (see Cement camouflage).

So that when the visor collapses, they do not impede movement around the trench, behind the visor they form an open top opening, covered from the inside with a small embankment that masks the lumen of the slot (loopholes) of the visor and at the same time protects the shooters from reverse shell fragments. Sometimes a step or other similar device was built on the back slope of the trench ditch, against the visor.

The light covering of the visor (poles, boards or wicker covered with turf) was not only sufficient to protect against shrapnel and rifle bullets, but was also safe when the visor was destroyed and facilitated the construction of the closure by the forces of the fighters themselves.

As a result, it should be noted that since the hitting of whole shells into the trenches were generally not so frequent, with rational use, visors during the First World War were of great benefit - reducing losses in the trenches and beneficially acting on the psyche of a fighter.


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  1. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 7 October 2018 05: 45
    A very interesting story. Thank. Such a building detail that can often be found in urban life. And it turns out that soldiers needed visors in the trenches during the years of the First World War
  2. Olgovich
    Olgovich 7 October 2018 06: 23
    During World War I, Russian troops were very accustomed to visors, erecting them almost all over the trenches. They were also erected in large numbers during the construction of well-reinforced rear positions.

    In the Second World War, this was not, although shrapnel did not decrease ....
    1. igordok
      igordok 7 October 2018 07: 37
      Quote: Olgovich
      In the Second World War, this was not, although shrapnel did not decrease ....

      WWII was a much more maneuverable war, it was not up to the visors. In the case of stabilization of the front line, bunkers were enough. And artillery got better.
      1. Ham
        Ham 7 October 2018 09: 01
        "" "Yes, and the artillery has become better" "" mortars have become much more
    2. Jerk
      Jerk 7 October 2018 08: 07
      Positional battles have become a rarity. Nayborot - blitzkriegs. "I believe that at the front I dug it more than a wheeled tractor in a season. - Zvyagintsev!" (C)
  3. Brutan
    Brutan 7 October 2018 07: 28
    the visor helped to maintain the fighting efficiency of the fighters, and the fighters to actively act as long as possible
    An important element of the trench defense system in detail)
    1. 2329 Carpenter
      2329 Carpenter 7 October 2018 07: 42
      "The enemy is dismantling the visors, Watson ...."
      "Prepare to attack, Holmes. Chain Lee Enfield, Lewis, and especially Max Vickers!"
    2. Reptiloid
      Reptiloid 7 October 2018 07: 43
      In 1MB, as the author gradually says in his articles, there were new means of both defeat and defense, new means of communication, the work of doctors and staff, services was organized in a new way ..... New methods, a lot of material to study.
      1. vladcub
        vladcub 7 October 2018 13: 10
        It has long been known: "nothing is new under the moon" (Shakespeare), in fact everything that was missed in WWII: aviation, artillery, mortar, machine gun - everything was used in WWI too .. Olgovich is almost right: "There was no such thing in OV", protective gifts were occasionally used in the defense of Sevastopol, as my great-uncle, a participant in the defense of Sevastopol, told me, some parts of the trenches had boardwalks to unsubscribe the fragments were closed. Perhaps still, somewhere, but - there were episodes, and not everywhere
        1. Vladimir 5
          Vladimir 5 7 October 2018 22: 13
          In the photo of the PMV, sometimes there were canopies in the RIA trenches, capital ones made of logs with props and a covered parapet ... Any visor will protect against shrapnel, so frequent on PMA, after mines hit the trench. But the tactics changed somewhat in the Second World War, during the defense, the visors do not give full protection, they were replaced with dugouts, especially "in three rolls", which also protected from 105 mm artillery and all mortars, they basically hid there .. They went out into the open trenches only when the enemy was advancing, when the patrols on duty ahead sounded the alarm. The Germans in defense were always not lazy and constantly and ingeniously built fortifications with bunkers and bunkers, deep approach trenches, etc. That is why we so often come across references in the memoirs of bunkers and other fortifications of the Germans ... I remember the stories of front-line soldiers, how often having dug trenches, arranged dugouts, had to leave and again dig and build in a new place. They said: if you want to survive, be friends with a shovel, showing ingenuity, build "fox holes", block them with improvised material, because the position of the shooter in the trench from the bunker is only equipped with a trench with overlapping, but in battle it is very different ... high-precision weapons (ATGM, artillery accuracy, etc.), mobility comes out on top, shoot and change your position .. If the shelter is so solid, with concrete, so that they don't "get it."
  4. vladcub
    vladcub 7 October 2018 13: 11
    Quote: Reptiloid
    In 1MB, as the author gradually says in his articles, there were new means of both defeat and defense, new means of communication, the work of doctors and staff, services was organized in a new way ..... New methods, a lot of material to study.

    Thanks to the author for talking about this.
  5. ecolog
    ecolog 3 January 2019 21: 56
    Helmets should be worn by metal fighters. And then how to hammer a board on the head in the explosion of a shell and a khan. Yes, and a rifle bullet should only be sewn on the go.