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Field and Foot
For most of its existence, the German Empire possessed two separate artillery establishments. The Field Artillery ( Feldartillerie) provided mobile firepower to formations in the field. It was consequently armed with relatively light weapons, such as the 77mm light field gun and the 105mm light field howitzer operated by the artillery regiments of German infantry divisions in 1914. The Foot Artillery (Fußartillerie) served heavier ordnance, such as the defensive armament of fortresses, the weapons of siege trains, and the heavy field howitzers of mobile Foot Artillery batteries.
The artillery arms of the armies of the German Empire split into two separate branches in 1872. Between that date and the start of the First World War, the Field Artillery and Foot Artillery developed distinct organizational cultures. Where theField Artillery tended to be rather “horsey,” preferring mobility to firepower and hippology to ballistics, the Foot Artillery made up for lack of dash with a state-of-the-art understanding of the scientific underpinnings of their art. They were thus leaders in the ballistics of long range artillery, the effect of various kinds of projectiles on various types of targets, and the technique of indirect fire.
In 1899, the British Army adopted an approach to the organization of its artillery establishment that borrowed much from the German two-part system. Where the Royal Garrison Artillery fulfilled the same functions as the Fußartillerie, the Mounted Branch (composed of the Royal Field Artillery and the Royal Horse Artillery) bore a strong resemblance to the Feldartillerie. As was the case with German gunners, the officers of each branch of the Royal Artillery served only in units peculiar to that branch.
The British and German approaches to the division of labor within their artillery establishments differed chiefly in the handling of mountain batteries. In the rare instances (such as the forming of an expeditionary force to go to China in 1900) when the German Army formed mountain batteries, such pack artillery batteries belonged to the Feldartillerie. The many mountain batteries of the British Army, however, were units of the Royal Garrison Artillery.
The artillery of the French Army, however, remained free of any sort of permanent subdivision. Thus, a French artillery officer might, over the course of a career, serve in a field battery, a mountain battery, or a unit of “foot artillery” (artillerie à pied) assigned to coastal defense installation or an inland fort.
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