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Coursework on Trenches

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Introduction

What was it like in the trenches? A century after World War One, historians still question the facts and the many ways soldiers survived the War. They ask questions about the uprising of the War, the number of total deaths and most importantly, life in the trenches. What is a trench? Why were they built? Why were trenches so important? What were conditions like in the trenches? What did soldiers think of them? In 1914, World War One began. Germany was determined to match Great Britain's great success in creating their vast colonies and empires all over the world, some of which included; India, Australia, North America. They plotted against Britain, hence the Schlieffen Plan. This was an idea to prevent Germany fighting on two fronts. They were to fight against France and Russia, both part of the Triple Entente, an alliance formed by Great Britain. Germany believed that defeating France would have to be quick enough so that they could rapidly travel east again, so that they could deal with Russia. However, there was only one problem. The problem was passing through Belgium. Britain had promised to help them, if it were to be attacked. It was merely impossible for Germany to get to France any other way, so it could not be prevented. News of Germany's arrival ignited the flame to the war. War had begun! Commandos and generals were certain that the war would only be won on the western front. They believed building 'trenches' would help carry out assaults on the enemy and gain the initiative in the war. The building of trenches was one of the most important aspects of the World War. A trench was a dug - out underneath the ground, at least two metres deep and two metres wide. It was dug in a particular zig - zag so that a blast from an enemy's exploding shell would only affect a confined section of the trench. ...read more.

Middle

Whereas inaccurate shelling would just waste shells as shown by this, '400 shells came over ... no one was hurt'. This source was viewed from a sergeant who would not have seen much of the deaths of shelling (shouting commands instead), therefore the number of deaths may be an estimate and not exact. Tactics were extremely important for both sides to win the war. 'Shelling' was one form of tactic. Another was 'attrition'. Lord Kitchener was a great supporter of attrition, the theory of grinding down the opposition over a long period of time; eventually the enemy would have to yield. It was believed that bombarding the enemy over a long period of time would fend them off. This could not break the stalemate. Both countries were so well equipped and equally matched, that it seemed at times the battle between the two would go nowhere (stalemate). A good example of this was the Battle of the Somme, which lasted five long months. Fortunately, the static style of fighting evolved due to the deployment of new state of the art weaponry. Armies had what they called 'Reconnaissance'. These were missions to gather information about the enemy position. Many soldiers made night - time trips over no man's land to the enemy trench, to familiarise themselves with the whereabouts of the enemy troops. Aeroplanes would often fly - over the enemy trench to take photos as well. During 1915, generals on the Western Front used huge numbers of weapons to break the stalemate. As the war progressed, more and more weapons were invented, which helped many battles at times. Before starting an attack, both sides bombarded each other with shells. The armies used 'heavy artillery' to fire these explosive shells. Heavy artillery was another name for big guns. These guns had enormous power and enabled armies to fire shells long distances. Germans called heavy artillery 'howitzers'. The newer ones in the war were able to fire shells, which exploded into small metal splinters called 'shrapnel'. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, this was one of the reasons of desertion of the war. Soldiers saw their friends die in battle and could not cope with the depression and strains. Many faked injury or escaped from the trenches and returned home. By 1917, thousands of men were deserting the British Army. In theory, soldiers always had plenty to eat. They were mainly supplied a sufficient amount of food such as: Meat (bully beef), Bread, Bacon, Tea, Sugar, Jam, Cheese, Butter, Potatoes, and Seasonings. It was believed that soldiers gained a stone and half (on average) in the trenches. This was partly down to the fact that many soldiers had come from poor backgrounds, therefore got more food in the trenches than at home. Soldiers were made to follow a strict schedule inside their trenches. This was known as the trench routine. This included cooking meals, cleaning, greasing gun barrels and nursing the injured etc. This helped keep many soldiers occupied, as well as preventing them from getting bored. Soldiers often tried to come out of trenches for a bit of an adventure. However, their lives were on the line - as one soldier said: "If you got out of your trench, you were a dead bear". The trenches were obviously a significant part of the First World War, as proved by the sources and from many people that survived the war. Trenches were built to win battles, and as shown, army officers went to any extremes to build them. Conditions in the trenches were poor enough to cause diseases and attract filthy vermin and lice. From this, we can assume the soldiers that lived in the trenches must have not liked them. It can be argued that many enjoyed the experience, as well as many made friends. Army officers and soldiers response to the war was different, as one would be fighting and the other would be shouting commands. I think the trench warfare was really important, as many of our ancestors risked their lives to win the War for Great Britain. http://www.fhm.com/site/games/main.asp ?? ?? ?? ?? Trench warfare coursework Mitul Dave 9BK ...read more.

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