Maces and Clubs used by Austro-Hungarian Army during WW1, 1914-1918
During the grueling battles of World War I, ground troops relied on an array of weapons such as rifles, grenades, and bayonets while enduring the harsh conditions of the trenches. However, amidst these well-known tools of warfare, there existed a weapon that
history often overlooks, despite its significant role in the close-quarters combat prevalent in The Great War. This weapon was none other than the trench club.
In instances where forces decided to raid enemy trenches, bolt-action rifles proved nearly ineffective as each shot was followed by valuable seconds spent on reloading. Similarly, stabbing an opponent with a bayonet required withdrawing the blade from the enemy’s flesh before engaging the next adversary, which could consume precious time. Every moment counted when engaging the enemy at close range, and regaining a secure grip on the bayonet might take too long.
To address these challenges, troops improvised by fashioning weapons out of available materials. These makeshift weapons, known as trench clubs, harkened back to the era when brave knights wielded similar implements on medieval battlefields. Let’s delve into four lesser-known aspects of trench clubs.
- They were commonly employed during night raids.
Under the cover of darkness, soldiers would stealthily navigate “no man’s land,” the treacherous territory between opposing fortifications. Moving through enemy trenches, they would silently dispatch their opponents with a well-placed club strike, minimizing the risk of raising alarm. The trench club proved indispensable in these covert operations.
- Size mattered when it came to trench clubs.
Reports suggest that medium-sized clubs were best suited for the confined spaces typical of trench warfare. On average, these clubs measured approximately 40 centimeters in length, equivalent to a standard classroom ruler with an additional three inches.
- Trench clubs were crafted on the frontlines.
Since trench clubs were not part of standard issue equipment, troops would gather materials found within the trenches and construct the weapons themselves or enlist the help of unit carpenters. Nails, remnants of Mills’ bombs, and various metal components were often affixed to the clubs in large quantities to enhance their lethality.
- The spring club emerged as the most famous type.
The spring club, distinguished by its leather handle, flexible metal coil base, and metal head, gained prominence among the different variations of trench clubs. Additional heads, such as small metal balls and star-shaped blades, were also affixed to these clubs, further increasing their versatility on the battlefield.
In the annals of history, the trench club stands as a testament to the resourcefulness and adaptability of soldiers during World War I. While rifles, grenades, and bayonets dominated the frontline, the trench club played a vital role in close-quarters combat, enabling troops to swiftly neutralize opponents. Its significance should not be forgotten, as it exemplifies the ingenuity born out of the challenging circumstances faced by those who fought in the trenches.