This is an example of British heavy artillery with a range of about twenty miles. The Germans called this particular British weapon "The Killjoy." The Germans had their own version of heavy artillery; one such weapon was "Big Bertha," and it could fire a shell a distance of thirty miles. As you can imagine, the damage inflicted by these great guns was devastating and the noise was horrifying. The constant barrage of these guns for hours and even days on end led to many cases of "shellshock" among the troops. Modris Eksteins describes this scene in The Rites of Spring:
The artillery barrage is deafening. When the air is still, the din can be heard faintly in London and Paris. Sometimes the pounding lasts for days. In June 1916 at the Somme it continues for seven days and nights. Field artillery, medium artillery, and heavy howitzers. the fifteen-inch-caliber gun of the British can fire a shell of fourteen hundred pounds. "Big Bertha" of the Germans, with a caliber of seventeen inches, can project a missile weighing over a ton. At Verdun in 1916 the Germans bring in thirteen of these twenty-ton monsters. Each is moved into position by nine tractors; a crane is required to insert the shell. The impact of this shell annihilates buildings; it shatters windows in a two-mile radius. In August 1914 these huge machines of war had demolished the purportedly impregnable forts of Liège. As the Krupp guns "walked" their shells toward the final target, Belgian defenders inside the fort went mad.
For concentrated attack there is usually one field gun for every ten yards under fire, and one heavy-- six-inch caliber and up-- for every twenty yards. When the huge shells burst, they ravage the earth with their violence, hurling trees, rock, mud, torsos, and other debris hundreds of feet into the air. Craters the size of swimming pools remain. . . . The small and medium shells, which make up most of the barrage, are less sensational in their effect. But to the soldier they too can mean annihilation without trace. "A signaller had just stepped out," wrote a medical officer of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers, "when a shell burst on him, leaving not a vestige that could seen anywhere near." Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring (1989), pp. 139-40.