Learn about the WWI firearm and uniform revolution

| October 11, 2016

COSHOCTON – WWI trench warfare utterly changed customary military strategy. The English and French had prepared to fight using horses and standing formations, but what they faced were trenches, sneak attacks, machine guns, grenades and tear gas. Their rifles, bayonets, handguns and swords weren’t designed for close combat and their weapons weren’t correspondingly vile. By the end of the war, the design of military-issued firearms had completely changed as had its uniforms and armor. Learn more about this fascinating history at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Dr. Jerry Meyer will give a presentation on the origin, technology and use of the weapons in the museum’s WWI exhibit, which features more than 30 rifles, carbines, revolvers, lugers and bayonets as well as holsters, bullets and cartridge belts. Dr. Meyer, an expert in firearms history, will share interesting facts and antidotes especially relating to the turn of events initiated by Germany’s battle strategies.

Imagine preparing for war with the expectation that both sides of the battle would line up across from each other, wait for the call to fire, then in unison. The British did just that. Their officers, keen on discipline and order, believed that firing at will was extremely unacceptable. To curb random shooting they had a magazine cutoff added to the rifles. This device limited a rifle to a single shot that had to be loaded individually. The realities of trench warfare made the cutoff obsolete, and it was removed from most weapons. There are many examples of the changes that had to be made, from the length of a sword to the volley sight on rifles. Even the trench coat was developed because of this new type of fighting.

WWI Firearms with Jerry Meyer will be in the Montgomery Gallery where the WWI exhibit is displayed. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for students, and free for Friends of the Museum.

The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum will be offering monthly programs to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI through 2017. The remaining 2016 programs are “Family Stories” on Nov. 14, and “Film Night—Joyeux Noel” on Dec. 12. The special exhibit, Remembering the Great War, will be on display through Dec. 31. The exhibit is sponsored by Auer Ace Hardware in Coshocton.

The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum is open daily from noon to 5 p.m. through October and is located at 300 N. Whitewoman Street, in Historic Roscoe Village, Coshocton, Ohio. For more information, contact the museum at 740-622-8710, email: jhmuseum@jhmuseum.org or visit their website, www.jhmuseum.org. The Ohio Arts Council also helped fund this event with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

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