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Describe The Conditions Faced By the British Troops on The Western Front.

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Introduction

Describe The Conditions Faced By the British Troops on The Western Front When the Allied forces declared war on Germany on the 4th of August 1914, the aim was to quickly defeat Germany and swiftly end the war so it would be "all over by Christmas". Instead it became a war of attrition with troops going "over the top" into no man's land. After the failure of Plan 17 and the Schleiffen Plan, the war stagnated and this led to trench warfare. However the Germans had already taken a large amount of land and were happy to consolidate what they had won. This meant that the Germans held the higher land and could build trenches; made of concrete, in the ground, whereas the British wanted to regain the land the Germans had won. ...read more.

Middle

Two million soldiers died in combat but three and a half million died from infection, maybe because antibiotics, such as penicillin, were in their infancy. However these problems were only suffered by the lower ranks, not officers or NCOs, who were only in that position because of their background, most of them coming from public schools. Men in the trenches were living in constant fear of a mustard or chlorine gas attack or where the next shell would land, although the trenches were built in a zigzag shape to avoid numerous fatalities when a shell exploded. This constant fear led to psychological problems. This was worsened by the smell of death, depression and stress. ...read more.

Conclusion

It was very different for officers though, who were usually paid at least ten times more than the average soldier and could therefore afford much more sophisticated entertainment. Moreover some soldiers were conscripted into the army and therefore had never experienced these types of conditions. This army was called "Kitchener's army" and for many it was their first time away from home. Some volunteers though had had two years' training. In conclusion it is obvious that conditions in the trenches along the Western front were awful, although these could be ameliorated depending on background, rank and the geography of the land. It is thus no surprise that attitudes to the war changed from "Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour", (Rupert Brooke, 1914) to "It is unspeakable, godless, hopeless", (Paul Nash, 1917). Rob Ashley ...read more.

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