No man's land

Last updated

An aerial photograph showing opposing trenches and no man's land between Loos and Hulluch during World War I Aerial view Loos-Hulluch trench system July 1917.jpg
An aerial photograph showing opposing trenches and no man's land between Loos and Hulluch during World War I

No man's land is waste or unowned land or an uninhabited or desolate area [1] that may be under dispute between parties who leave it unoccupied out of fear or uncertainty. The term was originally used to define a contested territory or a dumping ground for refuse between fiefdoms. [2] In modern times, it is commonly associated with World War I to describe the area of land between two enemy trench systems, not controlled by either side. [3] [1] The term is also used metaphorically, to refer to an ambiguous, anomalous, or indefinite area, in regards to an application, situation, [4] or jurisdiction. [5] [6] It has sometimes been used to name a specific place. [1]

Contents

Origin

According to Alasdair Pinkerton, an expert in human geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, the term is first mentioned in Domesday Book (1086), to describe parcels of land that were just beyond the London city walls. [7] [8] The Oxford English Dictionary contains a reference to the term dating back to 1320, spelled nonesmanneslond, to describe a territory that was disputed or involved in a legal disagreement. [1] [2] [9] The same term was later used as the name for the piece of land outside the north wall of London that was assigned as the place of execution. [9] The term is also applied in nautical use to a space amidships, originally between the forecastle and the booms in a square-rigged vessel where various ropes, tackle, block, and other supplies were stored. [1] [10] In the United Kingdom, several places called No Man's Land denoted "extra-parochial spaces that were beyond the rule of the church, beyond the rule of different fiefdoms that were handed out by the king … ribbons of land between these different regimes of power". [7]

Examples

World War I

A stretch of no man's land at Flanders Fields, Belgium, 1919 No-man's-land-flanders-field.jpg
A stretch of no man's land at Flanders Fields, Belgium, 1919

The British Army did not widely employ the term when the Regular Army arrived in France in August 1914, soon after the outbreak of World War I. [11] The terms used most frequently at the start of the war to describe the area between the trench lines included 'between the trenches' or 'between the lines'. [11] The term 'no man's land' was first used in a military context by soldier and historian Ernest Swinton in his short story "The Point of View". [2] Swinton used the term in war correspondence on the Western Front, with specific mention of the terms with respect to the Race to the Sea in late 1914. [11] The Anglo-German Christmas truce of 1914 brought the term into common use, and thereafter it appeared frequently in official communiqués, newspaper reports, and personnel correspondences of the members of the British Expeditionary Force. [11]

In World War I, no man's land often ranged from several hundred yards to in some cases less than 10 yards (~9 metres). [12] Heavily defended by machine guns, mortars, artillery, and riflemen on both sides, it was often extensively cratered, and was riddled with barbed wire, rudimentary improvised land mines, as well as corpses and wounded soldiers who were unable to make it through the hail of bullets, explosions, and flames. The area was sometimes contaminated by chemical weapons. It was open to fire from the opposing trenches and hard going generally slowed any attempted advance.

Not only were soldiers forced to cross no man's land when advancing, and as the case might be when retreating, but after an attack the stretcher bearers had to enter it to bring in the wounded. No man's land remained a regular feature of the battlefield until near the end of World War I, when mechanised weapons (i.e., tanks) made entrenched lines less of an obstacle.

Effects from World War I no man's lands persist today, for example at Verdun in France, where the Zone Rouge (Red Zone) contains unexploded ordnance, and is poisoned beyond habitation by arsenic, chlorine, and phosgene. The zone is sealed off completely and still deemed too dangerous for civilians to return: "The area is still considered to be very poisoned, so the French government planted an enormous forest of black pines, like a living sarcophagus", comments Alasdair Pinkerton, a researcher at Royal Holloway University of London, who compared the zone to the nuclear disaster site at Chernobyl, similarly encased in a "concrete sarcophagus". [7]

Cold War

During the Cold War, one example of "no man's land" was the territory close to the Iron Curtain. Officially the territory belonged to the Eastern Bloc countries, but over the entire Iron Curtain there were several wide tracts of uninhabited land, several hundred meters in width, containing watch towers, minefields, unexploded bombs, and other such debris. Would-be escapees from Eastern Bloc countries who successfully scaled the border fortifications could still be apprehended or shot by border guards in the zone.

The U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is separated from Cuba proper by an area called the Cactus Curtain. In late 1961, the Cuban Army had its troops plant an 8-mile (13 km) barrier of Opuntia cactus along the northeastern section of the 28-kilometre (17 mi) fence surrounding the base to prevent economic migrants fleeing from Cuba from resettling in the United States. [13] This was dubbed the "Cactus Curtain", an allusion to Europe's Iron Curtain [14] and the Bamboo Curtain in East Asia. U.S. and Cuban troops placed some 55,000 land mines across the no man's land, creating the second-largest minefield in the world, and the largest in the Americas. On 16 May 1996, President Bill Clinton ordered the U.S. land mines to be removed and replaced with motion and sound sensors to detect intruders. The Cuban government has not removed the corresponding minefield on its side of the border.[ citation needed ]

Israel–Jordan

No man's land in Jerusalem, between Israel and Jordan, circa 1964 JerusalemNoMansLand-v.jpg
No man's land in Jerusalem, between Israel and Jordan, circa 1964

The 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and Transjordan were signed in Rhodes with the help of UN mediation on 3 April 1949. [15] Armistice lines were determined in November 1948. Between the lines territory was left that was defined as no man's land. [16] [17] Such areas existed in Jerusalem in the area between the western and southern parts of the Walls of Jerusalem and Musrara. [18] A strip of land north and south of Latrun was also known as "no man's land" because it was not controlled by either Israel or Jordan between 1948 and 1967. [19]

Current no man's land

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guantanamo Bay Naval Base</span> Military base of the United States Navy

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, officially known as Naval Station Guantanamo Bay or NSGB, is a United States military base located on 45 square miles (117 km2) of land and water on the shore of Guantánamo Bay at the southeastern end of Cuba. It has been permanently leased to the United States since 1903 as a coaling station and naval base, making it the oldest overseas U.S. naval base in the world. The lease was $2,000 in gold per year until 1934, when the payment was set to match the value in gold in dollars; in 1974, the yearly lease was set to $4,085.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Land mine</span> Explosive weapon, concealed under or on the ground

A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically detonated automatically by way of pressure when a target steps on it or drives over it, although other detonation mechanisms are also sometimes used. A land mine may cause damage by direct blast effect, by fragments that are thrown by the blast, or by both. Landmines are typically laid throughout an area, creating a minefield which is dangerous to cross.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Demilitarized zone</span> Area in which agreements between military powers forbid military activities

A demilitarized zone is an area in which treaties or agreements between nations, military powers or contending groups forbid military installations, activities, or personnel. A DZ often lies along an established frontier or boundary between two or more military powers or alliances. A DZ may sometimes form a de facto international border, such as the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Other examples of demilitarized zones are a 9-mile wide area between Iraq and Kuwait; Antarctica ; and outer space.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1949 Armistice Agreements</span> Formal ceasefire which ended the 1948 Arab–Israeli War

The 1949 Armistice Agreements were signed between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. They formally ended the hostilities of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and also demarcated the Green Line, which separated Arab-controlled territory from Israel until the latter's victory in the 1967 Arab–Israeli War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trench warfare</span> Land warfare involving static fortification of lines

Trench warfare is a type of land warfare using occupied lines largely comprising military trenches, in which troops are well-protected from the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery. Trench warfare became archetypically associated with World War I (1914–1918), when the Race to the Sea rapidly expanded trench use on the Western Front starting in September 1914.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Separation barrier</span> Type of wall separating peoples, administrative units or cultures

A separation barrier or separation wall is a barrier, wall or fence, constructed to limit the movement of people across a certain line or border, or to separate peoples or cultures. A separation barrier that runs along an internationally recognized border is known as a border barrier.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Salient (military)</span> Battlefield front breakthrough progressing into enemy territory

A salient, also known as a bulge, is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. The salient is surrounded by the enemy on multiple sides, making the troops occupying the salient vulnerable. The opponent's front line that borders a salient is referred to as a re-entrant – that is, an angle pointing inwards. A deep salient is vulnerable to being "pinched off" through the base, and this will result in a pocket in which the forces in the salient become isolated and without a supply line. On the other hand, a breakout of the forces within the salient through its tip can threaten the rear areas of the opposing forces outside it, leaving them open to an attack from behind.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Area denial weapon</span> Weapon device for preventing occupation or traversing of a specified location

An area denial weapon is a defensive device used to prevent an adversary from occupying or traversing an area of land, sea or air. The specific method used does not have to be totally effective in preventing passage as long as it is sufficient to severely restrict, slow down, or endanger the opponent. Some area denial weapons pose long-lasting risks to anyone entering the area, specifically to civilians, and thus are often controversial. An area denial weapon can be part of an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Armistice of 11 November 1918</span> Armistice during First World War between the Entente and Germany

The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice signed at Le Francport near Compiègne that ended fighting on land, sea, and air in World War I between the Entente and their last remaining opponent, Germany. Previous armistices had been agreed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. It was concluded after the German government sent a message to American president Woodrow Wilson to negotiate terms on the basis of a recent speech of his and the earlier declared "Fourteen Points", which later became the basis of the German surrender at the Paris Peace Conference, which took place the following year.

The Green Line, (pre-)1967 border, or 1949 Armistice border, is the demarcation line set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between the armies of Israel and those of its neighbors after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It served as the de facto borders of the State of Israel from 1949 until the Six-Day War in 1967.

In international relations, a concession is a "synallagmatic act by which a State transfers the exercise of rights or functions proper to itself to a foreign private test which, in turn, participates in the performance of public functions and thus gains a privileged position vis-a-vis other private law subjects within the jurisdiction of the State concerned." International concessions are not defined in international law and do not generally fall under it. Rather, they are governed by the municipal law of the conceding state. There may, however, be a law of succession for such concessions, whereby the concession is continued even when the conceding state ceases to exist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Free Zone (region)</span> Region of Western Sahara

The Free Zone or Liberated Territories is a term used by the Polisario Front government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a partially recognized sovereign state in the western Maghreb, to describe the part of Western Sahara that lies to the east of a 2,200-kilometre (1,400 mi) border wall flanked by a minefield, often referred as the Berm, and to the west and north of the borders with Algeria and Mauritania, respectively. It is controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, as opposed to the area to the west of the Berm, which is controlled by Morocco as part of its Southern Provinces. Both states claim the entirety of Western Sahara as their territory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dragon's teeth (fortification)</span> Pyramidal anti-tank obstacles

Dragon's teeth are square-pyramidal fortifications of reinforced concrete first used during the Second World War to impede the movement of tanks and mechanised infantry. The idea was to slow down and channel tanks into killing zones where they could easily be disposed of by anti-tank weapons.

An international zone is any area not fully subject to the border control policies of the state in which it is located. There are several types of international zones ranging from special economic zones and sterile zones at ports of entry exempt from customs rules to concessions over which administration is ceded to one or more foreign states. International zones may also maintain distinct visa policies from the rest of the surrounding state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Involuntary park</span> Previously inhabited areas reclaimed by vegetation and wildlife

Involuntary park is a neologism coined by science fiction author and environmentalist Bruce Sterling to describe previously inhabited areas that for environmental, economic, or political reasons have, in Sterling's words, "lost their value for technological instrumentalism" and been allowed to return to an overgrown, feral state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peter the Great's Naval Fortress</span> Russian fortification line

Peter the Great's Naval Fortress or the Tallinn-Porkkala defence station was a Russian fortification line, which aimed to block access to the Russian capital Saint Petersburg via the sea. The plans for the fortress included heavy coastal artillery pieces along the northern and southern shores of the Gulf of Finland. The emphasis was put on the defenses of the gulf's narrowest point, between Porkkala, and Tallinn,. This was a strategic point, as the two fortresses of Mäkiluoto and Naissaar were only 36 kilometers apart. The coastal artillery had a range of about 25 kilometers and could thus "close" the gap between the shores, trapping enemy ships in a crossfire. Furthermore, a new major naval base was constructed in Tallinn.

Operation Before the Dawn was the first of the three costly human-wave attacks of 1983 in the Amarah area 200 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. It was launched by Iran.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1949–1956 Palestinian exodus</span> Continuation of the 1948 Palestinian exodus

The 1949–1956 Palestinian exodus was the continuation of the 1948 exodus of Palestinian Arabs from Israeli-controlled territory after the signing of the ceasefire agreements. This period of the exodus was characterised predominantly by forced expulsion during the consolidation of the state of Israel and ever increasing tension along the ceasefire lines ultimately leading to the 1956 Suez Crisis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iron Curtain</span> Political boundary dividing Europe during the Cold War

The Iron Curtain was the political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West, its allies and neutral states. On the east side of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the Soviet Union, while on the west side were the countries that were NATO members, or connected to or influenced by the United States; or nominally neutral. Separate international economic and military alliances were developed on each side of the Iron Curtain. It later became a term for the 7,000-kilometre-long (4,300 mi) physical barrier of fences, walls, minefields, and watchtowers that divided the "east" and "west". The Berlin Wall was also part of this physical barrier.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Line of Contact (Nagorno-Karabakh)</span> Line separating Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The Line of Contact was the line of military control which separated Armenian forces and the Azerbaijan Armed Forces from the end of the First Nagorno-Karabakh war until the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement.

References

Notes
  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "no man's land" . Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. 256795. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  2. 1 2 3 Persico p. 68
  3. Coleman p. 268
  4. "No-man's land definition and meaning". www.collinsdictionary.com.
  5. "Definition of NO-MAN'S-LAND". www.merriam-webster.com.
  6. "Portraits of No-Man's-Land". artsandculture.google.com.
  7. 1 2 3 "Adventures in No Man's Land". BBC News. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  8. "Nomansland". Open Domesday. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  9. 1 2 Levenback p. 95
  10. Hendrickson, Robert Facts on File Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (2008)
  11. 1 2 3 4 Payne, David (8 July 2008). "No Man's Land". Western Front Association. Archived from the original on 29 October 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  12. Hamilton, John (2003), Trench Fighting of World War I, ABDO, p. 8, ISBN   1-57765-916-3
  13. "Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Ecological Crises". Trade and Environment Database. American University. Archived from the original on 2009-03-27. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  14. "Yankees Besieged". TIME . 1962-03-16. Archived from the original on 2010-08-28.
  15. "S/1302/Rev.1 of 3 April 1949". Archived from the original on 2011-05-14. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  16. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2012-09-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2012-09-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. Hasson, Nir (30 October 2011). "Reclaiming Jerusalem's No-man's-land". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 9 February 2014.
  19. "Palestinians for Peace and Democracy". www.p4pd.org. Archived from the original on 2014-11-11.
Bibliography