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WW1 Coursework

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Introduction

Intro The soldier I have been researching is called Joseph Whelan. He was a gunner in the war and his service number was 30247. His parents were called Thomas and Catherine Whelan. He had 2 brothers and 1 sister. He had a wife called Sophie and 2 children. He was 27 when he died and died on the 10th of November 1917 while trying to save one of his friends, James, and by getting shot in the neck. He lived down white church road in Dublin and is buried in Boulogne eastern cemetery. Joining up When Joseph joined up for war he was exited. He sort of felt bad because he was Christian and his religion was against war but he wanted to join up because of his friends and eventually the pier pressure they gave him. So he was very glad when he told his parents he had signed up for war that his dad was overwhelmed and very proud of him. His mother however was not she felt let down because of the religion but Joseph explained that he had to save his country and would be back before she knew it. ...read more.

Middle

Joseph caught a few diseases himself but he mainly had to watch others suffering. This also linked into how the soldiers had to live in such dirty conditions. Because the rats spread diseases the soldiers had to eat the (infected food) and scratch themselves with dirty fingers. They also coughed and sneezed over each other, which spread the infections around the trenches. Joseph was one of the soldiers that caught a bad infection. He had to stay in bad for 2 days, it should have been longer but they needed men to fight. The soldiers also got sick from the smell of rotting bodies mixed with the fumes of the shells, this made them vomit and sometimes collapse. The soldiers could always hear the German bombs going off and smell the gases. They could hear the screams of injured and dying men in pain. Each day they saw soldier after soldier dying. Joseph saw one get his head blown off by a shell; the image haunted him for the rest of his time there. They saw millions of grenades flying in every direction, shooting hot metal everywhere. ...read more.

Conclusion

He probably never forgot about that image, it probably haunted him forever. The main mental effect was shell shock, this was when soldiers had heard truly deafening sounds from artillery fire and it had made them go mad. It resulted in soldiers shivering, stuttering, fainting for no reason and when they talked it made no sense. The officers and doctors normally assumed though that the soldier was pretending to be ill to be sent home so they treated all soldiers as cowards. They punished them by taking bullets out of their rifles and even tying the men to the wheels of artillery guns. If the soldier was found running away or hiding even if it was because of the shell shock he may have been sentenced to death (shot at dawn). This was where the soldier was kept in a cell over night with a window looking out towards the firing post where they would be shot tomorrow at dawn. Sometimes the soldier could even see another soldier getting shot so he would know what it will be like for him. Also in some conditions the soldier would be getting shot by some of his own friends and if they didn't want to shoot him they would be punished or even shot themselves. ...read more.

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