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What Was Life Really Like In The Trenches On The Western Front

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Introduction

What Was Life Really Like In The Trenches On The Western Front When World War 1 broke out in 1914, a lot of people joined up for the Army to fight for their country and to fight against the Germans, Italians and the Austria- Hungarians (mostly the Germans). There are many reasons why people joined up for the Army. For the people who did join up for the army they expected the war to last for a couple of months and that it would be over by Christmas. But if any of them had known that the war was going to last for 4 years till 1918, the people who joined up for the army probably wouldn't of joined the army. The British and French united together to battle the Germans on the North-West of France. In September 1914, after the battle of Marne, German soldiers where forced to retreat to the river Aisne (West of France). German commander, General Erich von Falkenhayn, ordered his men to dig trenches that it could hold onto the parts of Belgium and France that they still had and it also could provide the Germans with a defence from French and British soldiers. A couple of months later the trenches had spread from the North Sea to Switzerland, (channel tunnel-North Switzerland) with a distance of 475 miles of trenches. This was the creation of the Trench system. The Trench system consisted of 3 rows of trenches the 1st row in the Trench system was the 'front line', the second was called the 'support trenches', and the third row in the trenches was called the 'reserve trenches'. Then in January-March 1915 the year opened with a Naval disaster and on the Western front, trench conflict watched as huge armies where unable to go no more than a few hundred yards without major casualties In a letter from second lieutenant Preston White to his parents he reminded them that the 27th of January was 'Bill the II's birthday'. ...read more.

Middle

(LEBEL M1816) MODELE 1816-Was the first rifle adopted by France that was breechloading. On the outbreak of world war one the French Army was still using the lebel, but in 1916 it replaced by the Berthier. LENGTH: 40" (1016mm) WEIGHT: 9lb (4.08Kg) BARREL: 20.5" (521mm) CALIBRE: .7.62mm OPERATION: Gas FEED: 10-round box SIGHTS: 984 yds (900m) MUZ VEL: 2440 f/s (740 m/s) WEBLEY MK.IV (PISTOL)-All British officers in British Army carried pistols during ww1, the pistol was also issued to military police, aircrew and operating personnel of tanks and armoured cars, and of these available the British tended the webley MK.IV. Originally designed in 1887, but improved during the early stages of the war. The webley was a strong heavy-calibre weapon, which is estimated to have distributed over 300,000 to British officers during World War 1. SHELLS- shells were like todays bullets for an automatic gun, except they were bigger. The shells were about 75 mm. When they were fired, the shells were fired out of a canon. FLAMETHROWERS-in 1900 the German army first started testing with flame-throwers, then 11 years later special battalions were issued with them. Then in October 1914 the flame-throwers were first used on the western front. The flame-thrower was mostly used to kill the enemy in the frontline trenches. When the flame-throwers were first used they only had a range of 25 metres (22.86 yards) but as the war advanced the flame-throwers range increased to 40 metres (36.576 yards). The British army also tested with the flame-throwers but the British had no luck with them except with one with they developed into a two-ton thrower which sent a flame about 30 yards and those were introduced to the British army in July 1916. But within a couple of weeks two of the four had been destroyed so the British generals deserted the flame-throwers. POISON GAS-This was a weapon that was soon going to be hated by the soldiers in the 1st world war, even though poisonous gases were known before the war military offices were unwilling to use the chemicals as it was a uncivilized weapon to be used. ...read more.

Conclusion

The 13th Yorkshire and Lancashire regiment spent about 51 consecutive days in the front line. For the troops to get into the enemies trenches the soldiers used to bombard the enemy with heavy shell fire to try and blow part of the front line trench up (hopefully killing some enemy soldiers as well). They also thought that the heavy shelling would blow apart the barbed wire, it didn't it just lifted up the barbed wire then dropped it down again. Then eventually they would go over the top to try and capture the enemy trench, before being mown down by the German machine guns. With the sound of shells exploding near you, many soldiers found it very hard to get any proper sleep and it was very common for soldiers to go with out a good wash for weeks on end. The lack of washing led to people being infested with lice, and the people who found it very impossible to sleep for days suffered shell shock. Casualties As the war progressed more and more people became a victim of the war. People used to get killed by machine guns as they went over the top of the trench or they got impaled on the barbed wire. Below is an estimated casualty list from some places on the western front. MONTH BATTLE COUNTRY CASUALTIES JANUARY COMPI´┐ŻGNE FRENCH 90,000 MARCH NEUVE CHAPELLE British 11,000 MAY ARRAS FRENCH 120,000 MAY AUBERS British 17,000 SEPTEMBER LOOS British 60,000 Executions When the soldiers went into the trenches, a number of punishable acts. These offences include cowardice before enemy, self-inflicted wounds, desertion or attempt of abandonment, striking superior officer, disobedience of a lawful order, treacherously communicated with or in any way assisting the enemy, sleeping or being drunk on post, casting away arms or ammunition in the presence of the enemy, abandoning a position, and leaving a post without orders. A total amount of 286 people committed one of these offences while they were in the trenches and where executed. (All together about 304 soldiers committed an offence and were executed). ...read more.

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