Kleiner Spaten oder Schanzzeug (Entrenching Tool) und
As the Great War devolved into sustained trench warfare, the entrenching tool became more and more important. The Schanzzeug that the ordinary Infanterie Soldat carried was the Kleiner Spaten für Infanterie (short infantry shovel). The Spaten had a straight handle with a ball shaped end. The blade was square shaped and usually had one edge sharpened to make it into a very deadly weapon.
The Schanzzeug came in two basic patterns, the "folded ear" and "bent ear". Surviving examples of each show dates before and during the war, so it appears they were both produced and issued concurrently. Either pattern is acceptable for use in IR63. Many European countries for many years during and after the war produced shovels of nearly an identical size and design, so locating a Schanzzeug for use in IR63 is fairly easy, but there are a couple of key details some may not have that will need to be avoided: the blade must be of a two-piece design that clamps the blade to the handle and held together with (6) rivets, and the handle should not be tapered and shall have the bulb on the end as shown.
Photo from Johan Somer's Imperial German Field
Uniforms and Equipment 1907-1918.
The Schanzzeug was issued with a bare wood handle (ie. no varnish). Regulations stated the wood should be oiled periodically to keep the wood from becoming dried out and brittle. The metal blade was also expected to be kept rust-free and in serviceable condition. Access to dry sand to scrubbed into the surface will remove rust, a light coat of the same oil for the wood could protect the metal between uses. Dings and bends should be hammered or ground out to keep the blade effective. Members of IR63 are expected to maintain their Schanzzeug in the same fashion as you most likely WILL use your Schanzzeug at events.
Trench warfare was a barbaric struggle for survival, just to take an inch from the enemy, you had to over take their trench. Each side would send raiding parties, who generally cleared portions of the trenches with hand grenades, but when the time came to fight the stragglers, the longer rifle and bayonet combo just wasn’t effective in narrow and often swamped trenches. Even weapons like the trench knife just didn’t have the range or power needed. The Schanzzeug became the unexpected solution. Sharpening one edge made the Schanzzeug a very deadly and effective weapon in hand-to-hand combat in the trenches. Erich Maria Remarque, survivor of the WWI trenches and author of All Quiet on the Western Front provided the following observation:
"But the bayonet has practically lost its importance. It is usually the fashion now to charge with bombs and spades only. The sharpened spade is a more handy and many-sided weapon; not only can it be used for jabbing a man under the chin, but it is much better for striking with because of its greater weight; and if one hits between the neck and shoulder it easily cleaves as far down as the chest."
The following video demostrates the effectiveness of the Schanzzeug when used as a weapon, WARNING - not for the faint of heart:
By Musk. Hermann Graf (Mark Graef), JR63
Nearly all our front line revetting has been completed on our trenches -- at least, anything that is made of lumber or tin. But there is still earthwork left to do -- work that can (and should) be done by everyone who goes to the Fall event. No special skills are required; picks, shovels are all the tools necessary, and they will be provided.
Trenches dug in the Great War usually had a parapet and a parados -- piles of dirt outside the trench; the parapet being the pile on the side that faced the enemy. These served several functions, the first of which was to provide a place to put the excavated earth. They also effectively increased the depth of the trench and reduced the chance of splinters and rounds from arcing over the edge of the trench and taking off the top of a Soldat’s head. A parape t's most important and obvious function was to provide cover from fire for the upp er body when shooting from the firing step. Rifles were fired over the top of the parapet or sometimes from firing slits (Schießenschlitze) built into the parapet. Th e extra few inches of height above ground level provided by the parapet increased visi bility and fields of fire.
In the German Army parapets (Brustwehr) and parados (Rückenwerk) were made with about 30 cm (1ft) away from the edge of the tr ench -- this helped keep the dirt from eroding back into the trench. The flat spot be tween the trench and the parapet also made room for elbows when firing, and helped m ake it easier to climb out of the trench when attacking.
To authentically build a parapet for our front trench, the area in front of the revetting first needs to be filled in level to the top of the walls. The dirt for this can come from the floor of the trench, the unrevetted communications trench to our rear, or the floor of the Eagle's Nest. The rear face of the parapet will be built next using sandbags, 8 x 8 timbers, or logs. Dirt will then be thrown in front so it slopes away to the normal ground level. See the gray shaded are a in the lower drawing on the following page.
The height of the parapet will be determined by the slope of the ground and whether shooting will be done over the top or through firing slits. Firing slits are good for shooting at Tommies who expose their heads above their trenches or at small daytime probes. Only a few slits are needed per sector; they require a slightly higher parapet that provides head cover. For firing at night or during massive assaults it is better to have plenty of lower spots for shooting over the top.
The Rückenwerk can be done later almost entirely by backhoe with dirt from some
excavations that may occur to our rear. Meanwhile, have your Schanzzeug ready for
for some authentic action at the front. For inspiration for the task ahead, I quote
from the final chapter of the English translation of Spade Warfare, the German 1916
field engineering manual:
"Your spade is your helper and inseparable companion. Working with the spade keeps the blood in circulation, hardens the muscles, encourages the appetite, and keeps you fresh and well....Then practice yourself in the use of entrenching tools. Learn it better and better until you have surpassed the adversary. Keep your spade bright and sharp! The spade wins over the shells."
Typical cross sections of JR63's main fire trench at the Newville site showing overhead braces and fire step construction in the south part of our sector.
Right: Trench profile without framing.