During much of the war, inventors from all combatant nations had been trying to make a artillery projectile that could eradicate the obstacle that had become one of the symbols of trench warfare: barbed-wire. No one seemed up to the task and in the end, wire-cutters were still the best way to deal with the problem.
This article is about one inventor's failed effort to create a time fuse artillery shell that would deploy hooks that grab the wire as it goes speeding by and thereby saving the day. Needless to say, the "hook thing" didn't work out terribly well and the difficulty inherit with time fuse artillery shells would be perfected in the inter-war years.
By the time the U.S. Army had joined the war in 1917, they were far behind in the study of camouflage, but they did their best to catch up quickly. The American generals assigned the task camouflage to the Signal Corps, which began to cruise the ranks for artists and sculptors because of their natural abilities understand paint and scale (one of the more well-known W.W. I Signal Corps camofleurs was the painter Grant Wood: click here to read about him).
The attached article displays an illustration that clearly shows that the American Army had torn a page out of that well-worn play book written by the British Camouflage School in order to deploy papier-mache dummies along the front lines. There is no evidence or written word to indicate that it was actually done.
History's ancient example of camouflage, the Trojan horse, has a modern twist in this illustrated article. The journalist reported that at some undated point earlier in the war the French had a chance to set a mock horse-carcass between the opposing trenches and use it as an observation post.
The American press seemed a bit late in writing about the wartime innovations when they printed this piece:
"Observation posts made of lumber and sheet metal to look like tree trunks are among the latest disguises employed on the battle front to deceive the enemy and enable watchers to occupy positions of advantage."
The steel tree-stump gag had been in effect since 1915.
A black and white photograph illustrating one of the many iron tree stumps used throughout the war which served as field observation posts. It was in the night, when work was done by both sides to preserve and refortify their respective trenches that objects such as these were erected.
Two "action photographs" show a French armored car getting the job done in Northern France.
Read about the Patton tank in Korea...