Observation and Communication During World War One
Grace McManaman, Period 8, May 20, 2014

Communication: During World War One, a lot of man made communication systems were unreliable so troops had to find other ways to communicate or keep in contact. By doing this, troops would use dogs or pigeons to improve their communication. Over 100,000 pigeons were used in World War One and 95% of pigeons succeeded in getting their message through to their specific destination. As the French troops advanced at the First Battle of the Marne in 1914, their pigeons advanced with them. Pigeons were very fast flyers so it was almost impossible for someone to shoot a pigeon down. Another thing used for communicating were dogs. Around 55,000 dogs were used for communicating during the war. Lots of dog breeds were used during World War One, but the most popular type of dogs were medium-sized, intelligent and trainable breeds. Two in particular were used because of their superior strength, agility, territorial nature and trainability. They were called Doberman Pinschers and GSD’s. These military dogs were separated into categories depending on the type of dog they were. Either sentry, scout,casualty, or messenger dogs. Sentry dogs were trained to give a warning signal such as a growl, bark or snarl to indicate when an unknown or suspect presence was in the secure area such as a camp or military base. Scout dogs were used to work with soldiers on foot patrolling the terrain ahead of them. These dogs were useful to the military because they could detect enemy scent up to 1000 yards away. Casualty dogs were used to find the wounded and the dying on battlefields and were equipped with medical supplies to aid those suffering. Lastly, messenger dogs were used to help communication since sending soldiers would be more of a risk. Other types of communication used during World War One were radios, typewriters, codes, weapons, etc.

Observation: During World War One something used to improve observation was observation balloons. These balloons were filled with hydrogen gas and were 200 feet long. They were employed as aerial platforms and were used to gather information. Hanging from this balloon was a basket like one from a hot air balloon where someone could stand inside with binoculars since the balloon had to be a couple miles back from where they were observing.