This started with something to do with The Blue Max….really, I mean it! That is what I’m suppose to be doing here right??? I have set the discipline that I will post once a week no matter what and was digging a bit on what to post this week. I came up with a simple enough task. I had a list of words that Jack Hunter used in his book that I intended to add to a glossary of terms. But life with the internet means that simple tasks turn complicated, little excursions turn into entire journeys…..
The list looked something like this. If you notice when I made the list I didn’t know how to add umlauts to the text…the little vowel symbol for pronunciation in german words. I dutifully added a colon after the vowel so I would remember to fix the list eventually.
My first bit of internet trivia was this handy picture on how to add umlaut characters in Word. You simply hold down the Alt Key while you type the digits and release and like magic the symbol shows up!
I started in on the “real work” of looking up the words on the list. For no reason in particular I started with Feldgrau (sounds like field gray right?) and ran into a post by a re-enactor trying to get his facts straight on his WW1 german uniform and was comparing Feldgrau caps to Krätzchen (another word on the list!!) and the post linked to this website www.kaisersbunker.com created by Tony Schnurr. Well clearly I was going to kill two birds with one stone, following this link.
I should have recognized that I had already fell down the rabbit hole of research when I visited the first page that related to felt caps. Now I know more about caps than I ever wanted to know. Krätzchen are field caps without a visor. Schirmmütze are visor caps. Caps issued to enlisted men were of much lower quality than caps military men of means bought for themselves. The very stiff formal caps are referred to as tellermutzen or “plate hat” because they have stiff sides and tops. The two small “rosettes” are called Prueßen Korkade’s….(and yes now I’ve used at least three different umlauts just telling you about these hats. ) Well the caps were only the beginning…
I noticed a section on artillary shells with hats. An artful display of the different casing sizes, placed next to helmuts for scale ( perhaps not so artful if you were the guy in the trenches heaving these things into cannons or ducking for cover). Starting at the left 20mm Becker used on cannon’s mounted on the Gotha and AEG bombers, 3/7cm Maxim Flak, 8/0 Zug Flak heavy anti-aircraft, 8/8 K-Flak and finally the huge 30/5cm Küstenmörser Beta shells.
These images link to detailed pages with lots of images of the actual cannons as well as an explanation of the history that led to the Hotchkiss and Flak guns being placed near the trenches. Cannons had been developed on ships as defensive weapons and when flying machines surfaced as offensive weapons straffing the trenches, these cannons were moved into the field on swivel bases to provide a response.
They may not have been affective against planes at high altitude, but they did serious damage to the ground straffing planes. Shell casings piled high next to these cannons as they pounded away. The term Flak comes from the german word flugabwehrkanone which means air defense cannon. Anyone who spends time flying online knows how punishing this flak can be. We curse at it all the time as our planes fall out of the sky.
All this is documented in great detail on Tony’s website and I strongly recommend that you “fall into the rabbit hole” like I did to see what he has put together. Of course the story doesn’t end here. Through out the site you will see his dachshund Kaiser ( who the site is named after), all decked out in the appropriate gear. If you read deeper you will discover that Tony loved his dog dearly and was clearly heartbroken when the dog passed in 2010.
And yes, I did finally get back to my list of terms and at least took a shot at getting definitions for them. But Tony’s website, his insight into military history and his dog are so much more interesting than were I started.
The Rabbit Hole is not such a bad place after all!