Click to Subscribe
▶  More from
Mob Tactics
Marius Cues the Crackpot on Trench Fighting
Close Combat in Trench Warfare
11:25 PM (49 minutes ago)
Hey you old hobo,
I came across this article on CQB in WW1
Its detailing how the soldiers adapted to hand to hand fighting during raids: favouring knives and clubs over cumbersome and noisy firearms.
Very interested to hear your thoughts,
as always,
Marius

Marius, thank you for tis excellently footnoted article.
I spent a lot of time researching boxing at the Peabody Library in Baltimore in 1998-2000 with a number of self-defense books that combined commonsense self-defense and various other martial arts, including fencing, and boxing. By 1903 the boxing manuals were becoming focused on the sports applications and the fencing was being dropped—things were becoming compartmentalized and specialized. Then mixed fighting came into vogue by 1905 with Sam McVey journeying to Japan to box against a Jujitsu man.
Below there is one quote by a British instructor who shoes the similarity in the British boxing style and bayonet posturing, much like the boxing of 500s B.C. Hellas was similar in posture to Hoplite spear and shield postures, but not optimal.
The main points of the article was:
-1. After the Japs beat up the Russians in 1905-6, Jujitsu gained much currency in Germany, England and the U.S.
-2. Other wise, the French used savate, and the English and Americans boxing and wrestling.
-3. It did not matter what art was used, those with some training in anything faired much better than those with none.
-4. Though the parochial debates over arts being promoted by individuals continued, the martial arts were agreed to work best when mixed.
-5. The most important recipe for success was more primitive, however, sneaking like a savage and remaining unheard and unseen.
-6. The second most important aspect was improvised weapons, various clubs and knives short enough to chop and stab with in narrow trenches. "Indian axes" I suppose tomahawks and spiked clubs and sharpened entrenching tools were preferred.
-7. The shotgun and the pistol were more effective than the rifle and bayonet as it was so long.
-8. The bayonet itself remained quite deadly and the butcher knife found its place on the battlefield to cut throats.
-9. Mob tactics, meaning crowding, pushing, and then kicking and stomping and smashing downed foes with hard objects would be the key linkage between weaponry and empty hand and individual and team aggression. If you do not have a spiked club, then putting a human head on the ground and stomping on it is the next best thing for low skill lethal aggression.
Overall, I suspect that the key lesson here is that the men trained in unarmed fighting of any kind did best in these close and mixed weapons settings because they were all trained to get close, and when dealing with a rifleman would do so with extreme urgency.
The fencing tactic most important would be the lunge to expedite the insertion of any sharp object into the entrenched foe.
In many ways, the horrendous slaughter dominance of artillery and machine guns and the inability of the rifleman to survive it, meant that he was urged into combat ranges too close for his weapon design, like a boxer not being able to deal with kicks and then getting sucked into the clinch.
My favorite trench weapon would be a bowie knife with a knuckle guard for punching.
Three quotes which I particularly liked, from the end notes [EN] cited in the article:
“The weapon that is least needed is a rifle. A club or a sandbag or an Indian battle axe or spiked club is better. A good slugger without any weapon at all may take an adversary's loaded rifle away from him and knock him down and then kick him to death. [EN4]”
“…the elements of boxing, wrestling, fencing and mob tactics, plus the stealth of the Indian, who crept up on a camp on the plains…”
“…the science of boxing, as Dr. Raycraft has pointed out, is intimately related to the business of bayonet-fighting."[EN20]
prev:  The Helmet Crest     ‹  modern combat  ›     next:  Sifu Brian on Boxing
eBook
the combat space
eBook
the fighting edge
eBook
logic of force
eBook
by the wine dark sea
eBook
when you're food


Jimbo in 'Da UPFeb 4, 2021

Yup, German Stormtroop squads, infiltrating in lanes by night, often crawling most of the way, used hand to hand and weapons other than firearms to gain footholds into enemy trenches. If blades, garrotes, or blunt weapons couldn't deal with enemy combatants, grenades sufficed. You could chuck a grenade and not pinpoint yourself the way a muzzle flash from a firearm would. Former US Marine tactics instructor H. John Poole has excellent books detailing the efficiency of such methods.
ShepMar 31, 2021

The more things change, the more they stay the same:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Byers#Medal_of_Honor_action
Add a new comment below:
NAME  
EMAIL  
MSG