This nasty looking weapon is described in the original IWM accession register of 1917 as a ‘Casse Boche’ with the suggestion that it was used by the French in the 2nd Battle of Champagne in 1917. It is constructed from a naturally gnarled piece of wood, weighted with lead and fitted with iron spikes. It is too long to make an effective club if the leather hand grip is held. It may well be that it was intended primarily as an officer’s walking stick.
I love it.
Soldier manning a Crapouillot mortar
The mortier de 58mm type N°2 was a medium trench mortar designed around the last weeks of 1914 by commandant Duchêne. One of the first pieces of standard-issue trench artillery of the French army, it consisted of a heavy baseplate and 58mm mortar firing finned bombs ranging in caliber from 60mm to 200mm, which were fitted in the muzzle of the gun on metal poles containing the propellant.
French soldiers carrying another model of the Crapouillot’s projectile, with more accurate proportions than the above illustration.
Although a successful design issued to various Entente power, the Crapouillot mortar alone could not fill the army’s requirement for trench artillery and was complemented by a slew of improvised grenade launching weapons. By the end of the war and with a production run of three full years, the mortiers de 58mm made up 70% of all French trench mortars.
French soldiers operating a periscope rifle in a trench at Bois d’Ailly, Meuse. April 1915.
The soup in the lines of the 204th Infantry Regiment, Bois des Buttes, September 17, 1917.j
Two French troops in a front line trench, using a box periscope to look over the top in Argonne, 1915.
French soldiers of the 148e Régiment d’Infanterie prepare to get off the trench during the Battle of Artois
French soldiers operating a periscope rifle in a trench at Bois d’Ailly, Meuse. April 1915
The 56° Infantry Regiment amongst others, held the front at Bois d’Ailly on the Meuse in early April 1915. Nine months after the start of the war, April 5, the French army launched an offensive on the Moselle and the Meuse.
French troops digging in with their entrenching tools. North of Courville, 29 May 1918.
French troops playing cards in a trench on the Western Front, 1916.