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Advancing in the open with only ceremonial helmets on…
The Battle of the Frontiers – the opening salvo of WWI – saw unprecedented casualties in the history of warfare.
The French lost [over 329,000 killed, wounded, or missing](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Frontiers#Casualties) in one month of fighting (a gigantic chunk of the French Army) – with over 27,000 KILLED on 22 August alone, and another 140,000 casualties suffered in the last 4 days of the fight.
Machine guns and exploding artillery shells meant that advancing in the open without cover (and without any form of protection, like functioning helmets) was near suicide. For example, a single airburst shell could kill or wound all the men in this picture.
That’s the thing that always gets me. For all the horrors of trench warfare in WWI, trench warfare was the answer to the carnage of the Battle of the Frontiers and the open warfare early in the war. Trench warfare actually *reduced* the casualty rates, which is why both sides dug in