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Explain how the experience of soldiers fighting on the frontline varied and changed throughout the war.

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Introduction

10/30/02 Explain how the experience of soldiers fighting on the frontline varied and changed throughout the war. The First World War was one of constant changes as new concepts, strategies and issues were developed to achieve the ideal outcome: victory. However, it was also a war that was at a standstill where variations to a number of factors were unlikely to occur in the short term. Thus, soldiers experienced a war of changing strategies yet one of discomforting routine. While changes did occur, routine was still implemented with the monotony of these repetitions accentuated by the ongoing stalemate on the Western Front. Changes involved attitudes, weapons, tactics and commanders, while constants included routine, food, casualties and the concept of failure. The relationship between attitudes and all other factors mentioned above is that of cause and effect, for the effect of these various elements contributed to the negative attitude that most, if all, soldiers developed throughout the course of the war. The start of the war had been well received by the majority of the European population for it represented imperialism and superiority. This view is reflected by British Subaltern Grenfell who wrote: "I adore war. ...read more.

Middle

Over time snipers picked away at platoons. Priestley, head of B Company in Sourchez in 1917, saw his 270 men go down to 70 during a period of holding the line and without any battle activity. A couple were lost to shells, a couple to machine guns but as he wrote, 'the real killer was the sniper'. This tension decreased morale greatly as well as adding to the animosity felt towards the enemy. The replacement of Commanders on the Western Front played a key role in the changing experiences of both German and Allied troops, as soldiers were faced with ameliorated commanders, or worse commanders that exacerbated the dreadful experience of the war. The most obvious change to experiences derived from changing commanders was due to the shift from defensive to offensive strategies. In the beginning of the war, all leading Commanders, that is Britain's J. French, France's J. Joffre and Germany's H. Moltke, believed in the strength of the offensive strategy. With French and Moltke replaced within the first year of battle, new Commanders emerged eager to advance their army: D. Haig for Britain and E. ...read more.

Conclusion

The repetition of these factors drained the life out of soldiers like a leech. The enthusiasm of soldiers having been extracted by the power of death and the concept that this war, which was expected to have been over within months of outbreak, would be an ongoing saga in which millions were to suffer from. The prediction that this war would be short and victorious is such an obvious disparity as seen by the various changes that took place over the lingering years on the Western Front, as well as the repetition of daily life. The experiences of all soldiers on the Front changed greatly during the course of the war, as seen by changes in attitudes, weapons, tactics and commanders, as well as repetition of routine, food, casualties and the concept of failure. These changes and constants shaped the experience of war for the soldiers: one of horror and despair, as described by British soldier Arthur Savage. He provides the all-too-familiar image of the Great War with his memories "of sheer terror...of trench foot that had turned gangrenous...of filth and lack of privacy...of huge rats and cold deep wet mud everywhere. And of course, corpses...and there he'd stay for days". ...read more.

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