World War I
Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.43

     challenging words:    arsenal, gustav, monumental, poisonous, predicament, surrounding, explosive, armed, general, army, better, highly, artillery, mobile, massive, enemy
     content words:    World War I., Gustav Krupp, Big Bertha, Big Berthas, By August

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Big Bertha
By Jane Runyon

1     If you are a general in an army, you want to keep your soldiers alive. It is much harder to keep soldiers alive when they are fighting their enemy face to face. For hundreds of years, the answer to this predicament has been to damage the enemy from a safe distance away. This can be accomplished by shooting a heavy shell from a cannon. Ships were armed with cannons to fight enemies across distances on the water. Forts were armed with cannons to fight off advancing forces. Shells shot from cannons could cover great distances and do great damage to men and supplies.
2     Artillery weapons were used heavily in World War I. The British used 1,300 heavy guns. They fired a total of 1,730,000 shells from these guns in just one week. If you were to do the math, that would be over 10,000 shells every hour. The shells that were fired were highly explosive. Bits of metal, called shrapnel would explode in the trenches. People and supplies would be destroyed by being torn apart. Sometimes the only warning the soldiers had was the whistling the shell made as it pelted through the air at high speeds. Artillery guns were also used to propel canisters filled with poison gas. The Germans could deliver a deadly blow to the Allies by loading a cannon with canisters filled with the poisonous load and then sit back at a safe distance while the gas was delivered at a great distance away.

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