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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: History
  • Essay length: 2423 words

Trench Warfare between 1914-17

Extracts from this essay...


Trench Warfare Name Brian Bennett Class 10 Set 1b Teacher Mr Bell Assignment 3 Date 2000-01 GCSE Contents Page 1. Front Cover 2. Contents Page 3. Introduction 4. Trench Warfare 1914-18 9. Conclusion 10. Bibliography 11. Pictures and illustrations Introduction The Trenches "The front is a cage in which men have to wait for the outcome of events with nerves on edge. With shells flying above our heads, we live in the tension of uncertainty. Chance hovers above us. When there is firing, I can stoop down, that is all. I can neithe5r know, nor influence, the direction of that fire." Trench Warfare is most closely associated with the Western Front. From the winter of 1914 to the summer of 1918 the front ran due south from the Belgian coast to the River Somme east of Amiens. It then curved east along the River Aisne to Verdun before snaking Southeast to the Swiss border. First Ypers Battle ended the war of movement on the Western Front and began the struggle of stalemate. The front in the west stretched for some 350 miles with interruption from the Channel to the Swiss Border. As the theatre of fighting shifted of the east, both the Germans and Allies improved their defences. They both began extending trenches, deepening rifle pits, constructing dugouts and laying miles upon miles of barbed wire.


9th December 1915: Operation on upper arm for gangrene (successful). 12th December 1915: Removed to St Omer No 10 Casualty Clearing Station by hospital barge. 29th December 1915: I am sent to England on the hospital ship Dieppe, then by train to Nottingham. 3rd June 1916: Operated on and re-amputated in Brighton and awaiting Roehampton for artificial limb. Soldiers also suffered from trench foot and frostbite. Trench foot was caused by long periods of standing in mud and water. The feet would often swell and go completely numb. Then they became extremely painful and began to rot; sometimes feet would get so bad they would have to be amputated. Foot inspections were carried out to try and detect the disease at the outset, and soldiers were advised to wash their feet daily and rub them with whale oil. Dysentery was another disease that soldiers caught in trenches. Bacteria entered the body through the mouth in food or water and also by human faeces, and contact with infected people. The diarrhoea caused the soldiers suffering from dysentery to lose important salts and fluids from the body and dehydrate. This disease struck the men in trenches, as there was no proper sanitation. Latrines in the trenches were pits four to five feet deep.


A larger number of soldiers with these symptoms were classified as 'malingerers' and sent back to the front-line, in some cases men committed suicide, others broke down under the pressure and refused to obey the orders of their officers and were court-martialled or got shot on the spot. Official figures said that 304 British soldiers were court-martialled and executed. A common punishment for disobeying orders was Field Punishment Number One. This involved the offender being attached to a fixed object for up to two hours a day and for a period up to three months. These men were often put in a place within range of enemy shellfire. Conclusion War in the trenches had countless consequences. By the time fighting had stopped, new equipment had been made which resulted in there being no such warfare again. But for all those men who died this new weaponry and equipment was too late. The soldiers were under a terrible mental strain, which meant for many that they could not cope with the pressures of fighting. Diseases and illness struck soldiers often because of the state of the trenches because the British Generals, particularly, did not build good enough trenches for their soldiers and this caused them to get decreases, trench foot and shell shock. These men often teenagers suffered great distress trying to survive for long spells in cold wet conditions without dry clothes or proper food. Those who survived would live with horror for the rest of their lives.

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