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Flamethrowers: Their Psychological Effects In Warfare

1213 words - 5 pages

Flamethrowers:
Their Psychological Effects in Warfare

Weapons have been around since the beginning of mankind. Over thousands of years, human technology has increased to unimaginable heights, and with this advancement, humans have learned the art of warfare. Weapons are the tools of warfare. However there are some weapons which are superior over others. One of those weapons is fire. Being one of the oldest tools in history, there is no set date on when the first controlled fire was ever created, though there is evidence to show that it was first controlled as early as 790,000 B.C. Through the thousands of years since then, the weapons which bare the flame have also evolved.
However, there is one incendiary weapon which sticks out more than the others in their ability to strike fear: the flamethrower. This weapon has the most devastating psychological effects on soldiers. Fire itself has the power inflict fear into the enemy, and the results only intensify when it shot across twenty yards. Flamethrowers are also very dangerous for the carrier, since they are such high-value targets. As effective as they were, these weapons were known to fail quite often, inflicting fear on the user. Tanks armed with flamethrowers were one of the most terrifying thing to see on the battlefield. Along with this, flamethrowers were not the most dependable weapon in combat. This fear-striking incendiary weapon is one of unparalleled effects.
The concept of the flamethrower has been around for centuries. A weapon which shot flames at its target seemed genius. It was not until the First World War that they finally saw much action however. In 1901, a german scientist by the name of Richard Fiedler constructed the first modern flamethrower, which the Germans called the flammenwerfer. It consisted of a container of pressurized gas and another filled with the fuel. When ignited, the burning mixture is spewed out from the barrel of the weapon toward the target.
They first saw use in 1915 when the Germans caught the British off-guard at night. Lieutenant Carey wrote what he saw during that battle. As written in Lyn Macdonald’s 1915: The Death of Innocence, Carey wrote, “There was a sudden hissing sound, and a bright crimson glare over the crater turned the whole scene red. As I looked I saw three or four distinct jets of flame, like a line of powerful fire hoses spraying firing instead of water, shoot across my trench. How long this lasted it is impossible to say, probably not more than a minute, but the effect was so stupefying that I was utterly unable for some moments to think correctly.” As just said, soldiers in the vicinity of an enemy flamethrower can be immobilized due to their unequal capabilities to strike fear. In the same surprise attack at Hooge, Michael Duffy from Firstworldwar.com states that “the effect of the dangerous nature of the surprise attack proved terrifying to the British opposition,” and even forced many of the British soldiers to fall back....

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