• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What were the main problems for soldiers involved in trench warfare? When the war first started everyone thought that it would be over in a couple of months if not weeks

Extracts from this document...


What were the main problems for soldiers involved in trench warfare? When the war first started everyone thought that it would be over in a couple of months if not weeks. But the cavalry and infantry were soon mown down by new weapons. It was General Erich von Falkenhayn who first ordered German troops to dig trenches to protect them from French and British troops in September 1914. The French and British could not break through these defences so also began to dig trenches. The British trenches were built on lower ground which meant that they were waterlogged most of the time. During the Great War British trenches stretched from the Swiss border to the English Channel, about 440 miles. Soldiers involved in trench warfare faced many problems. Trench foot was a very common infection. It was caused by prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions. Because British trenches were often waterlogged troops spent a lot of time stood in water. Trench foot caused the foot to go numb and turn red or blue and if untreated result in amputation. During the winter of 1914, 20,000 soldiers had to be treated for trench foot. This was a big problem as it meant that there were fewer soldiers to fight. ...read more.


One soldier described finding a group of dead bodies whilst on patrol, "I saw some rats running from under the dead men's greatcoats, enormous rats, fat with human flesh. My heart pounded as we edged towards one of the bodies. His helmet had rolled off. The man displayed a grimacing face, stripped of flesh; the skull bare, the eyes devoured and from the yawning mouth leapt a rat." The rats became bolder and started to steal food from the soldiers and attempt to take food from their pockets whilst they were sleeping. To try and get rid of the rats, soldiers would shoot at them with their bayonets, although this was forbidden as it was seen as a waste of ammo, or sometimes even club them to death. A big problem for the army was shellshock and self inflicted wounds as it caused a big loss of soldiers capable of fighting. Early symptoms of shellshock were tiredness, irritability, giddiness, lack of concentration and headaches and then eventually soldiers would suffer a mental breakdown. This meant they were incapable to fight again. It was thought that shellshock was caused by the enemy's heavy artillery. A bursting shell creates a vacuum and when the air rushes into the vacuum it disturbs the cerebrospinal fluid, found in cavities in the brain, and this can affect the working of the brain. ...read more.


Another gas used was phosgene. Phosgene was more deadly than chlorine as it caused less coughing meaning more of it was inhaled. Some of the effects of inhaling phosgene were: difficulty breathing, blurred vision, development of fluid in the lungs, burning sensation in the throat and eyes, nausea and vomiting. Exposure to phosgene could cause some delayed effects, a healthy soldier could suffer from these effects 48 hours after inhaling it. Some of these effects were difficulty breathing, coughing up white to pink-tinged fluid, low blood pressure and heart failure. The most lethal of all though was mustard gas as it was very hard to protect against and it was almost odourless. Some of the long term effects of being exposed to mustard gas were chronic respiratory disease, repeated respiratory infections, or death, permanent blindness and an increased risk in lung and respiratory cancer. Life in the trenches was extremely tough and even caused some men to wound themselves in an attempt to get out of fighting. Soldiers faced many dangers and problems and lived in appalling conditions, it was cold, wet, muddy and they were surrounded by dead bodies. The smell was revolting, caused by rotting bodies and overflowing latrines. The soldiers lived in constant fear and danger of enemy attacks in a war that was only supposed to last for a few months and ended up lasting for four years. ?? ?? ?? ?? Trench Warfare ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  1. Why was Trench Warfare so terrible

    Of course there were still many occasions when close combat fighting was necessary. This was the ideal scenario for the use of the bayonet. Nevertheless, while it was rarely actually used, experienced soldiers generally preferred other methods, carrying improvised clubs, blades or knuckledusters.

  2. World War One Trench Warfare Sources Questions

    Source H uses the past tense which indicates that it has been written after the war. As I said earlier, this kind of information would not have been allowed to be sent home. There is more evidence to back up this point.

  1. Production of chlorine

    --- Sodium chlorate is a powerful oxidizing agent. It is used to manufacture explosives and matches because of its ability to produce oxygen. Chlorate is a powerful ingredient of bleaching powder used in paper and pulp processing and calico printing. It is used also a weed killer and defoliant.

  2. I need to produce a marketing strategy for a new or existing product. I ...

    advantageous; * the use of financial instruments such as oil and gas swaps, gas price derivatives, and electricity contracts for differences; * hedging against the dollar element of the oil price exposure with forward foreign exchange contracts; and * use of bilateral agreements for gas and power.

  1. Why was World War One the first and last major war to be characterised ...

    The British decided to dig in Ypres near the border between France and Belgium. Another important reason why trench warfare developed on the Western Front was the nature of weapons technology used during World War One. By the beginning of the First World War, weapons were very powerful and accurate.

  2. Did the Soldiers Themselves, Give a more Accurate Picture of Trench Life than Official ...

    It is taken from facts and it means that it is unlikely to be biased. This source can be seen as useful for many reasons. Firstly, it includes information about one of the important victories over the Germans by Britain and France at Marne.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work