Essay On Ww1 Trenches

World War I was a military conflict that lasted from 1914 to 1918.  It was a modern war with airplanes, machine guns, and tanks.  However, the commanders often fought World War I as if it were a 19th Century war.  They would march their troops across open land into the face of machine guns and often slaughter.  As a result of this action, a tactic known as trench warfare was implemented.

The most recent use of use of trench warfare, before World War I, took place during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).  This war attracted worldwide attention among military authorities that were interested in studying the latest technology used in war.  Many viewed trench warfare to be an effective tactic against enemy advancement.  Because of this view, trench warfare proved to be, in World War I, an ineffective and traumatizing experience for all.

In September 1914, the German commander, General Erich von Falkenhayn ordered his troops to dig trenched that would provide protection from the allied troops.  When the allies reached the trench, they soon realized that they could not break through the line that the trench provided.  They also realized that the trench provided the Germans with shelter from their fire.  Soon after, the allies began to dig their own trenches and, therefore, trench warfare began.

Not very long, after the first trenches of the war were dug, a network of trenches arose.  This network spread across France and Belgium for many miles.  Within the network, there were three different types of trenches: front line trenches, support trenches, and reserve trenches.

The first line of trenches was called front line trenches.  These were usually two meters deep and had a zigzag pattern to prevent enemy fire from sweeping the entire length of the trench.  In order to prevent the trench form caving in, sandbags were stacked against the trench walls.  Between the trenches of opposing forces laid no man’s land.  This area between the opposing front line trenches was filled with barbwire and mines to prevent enemy crossing.  If a soldier was ever injured in no man’s land, he usually was killed because of his vulnerability to enemy fire.

The second and third types of trenches were the support and reserve trenches, respectively.  These trenches were constructed to easily move supplies and troops to the front trenches.  All of the trenches were linked to each other by other trenches, underground tunnels, or telephone communications networks.  Barbwire was also stretched across the line to protect from enemy attack.

While the design of the trenches and the network of trenches seemed like a great tactic, the reality of the life in the trenches was a different story.  Life in the trenches took its toll on the soldiers involved in the war.  The soldiers in the front line trenches often stayed there for at least 10 days at a time, usually with very little sleep.  “Katczinsky is right when he says it would not be such a bad war if only one could get more sleep.  In the line we have next to none, and fourteen days is a long time at one stretch”(p.2).  The main reason that soldiers on the front line could not sleep was to be on guard against enemy sneak attacks.

Another reason that the soldiers were very tired is that night was used as a time for preparation and maintenance of the trenches.  The trenches were constantly being destroyed, either by enemy shellfire, or water damage.  Many times, soldiers would be buried alive by the collapsing trench walls.  Paul, in All Quiet on the Western Front, states “Our trench is almost gone.  At many places, it is only eighteen inches high, it is broken by holes, and craters, and mountains of earth.”(p.107).

Along with very little sleep and the destruction of trenches, soldiers also had to worry about contracting trench foot.  Trench foot is an infection of the feet caused by wet and insanitary conditions.  Soldiers stood for hours on end in waterlogged trenches without being able to remove wet socks or boots.  This caused their feet to gradually go numb and their skin to turn red or blue.  If these conditions went untreated, they would turn gangrenous and result in amputation.

Another major concern for soldiers in the trenches was dysentery.  Dysentery is a disease involving the inflammation of the lining of the large intestine.  The inflammation caused stomach pains, diarrhea, and usually vomiting or fever.  The main causes of dysentery were bacteria entering the body through the mouth, contact with human feces, and contact with infected people.  Dysentery mainly struck the soldiers because of improper sanitation from latrine use in the trenches.

Another major concern for soldiers in the trenches was the rats.  Many times, in the trenches, the bodies of soldiers were buried in the walls of the trenches.  If a wall fell, a large number of decomposing bodies would become exposed.  These corpuses, as well as food scraps, attracted large numbers of rats.  As Paul states in All Quiet on the Western Front, “The rats here are particularly repulsive, they are so fat – the kind we call corpse rats.  They have shocking, evil, naked faces, and it is nauseating to see their long, nude tails.”(p.102).  The rats would feast on the eyes of the dead soldiers first and then hollow out the remainder of the corpse.  Since one pair of rats can produce 880 offspring per year, one can only imagine the number of rats that swarmed the trenches.

Trench warfare lasted for about four years.  At the end of World War I, the network of trenches extended for more than 600 miles across the countryside.  Through the course of the war, many soldiers lost their lives not only to the fighting that was involved, but also to the extreme conditions that they had to endure in the trenches.  Many years after the war, authorities realized the actual cost of trench warfare.  World War I was the last time that the tactic of trench warfare was ever used.

Bibliography
  Remarque, Erich Maria (1958). All Quiet on the Western Front. New York: Ballantine Books.

  Strout, J. (1997). Life in the Trenches. [On-line].  Available: http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/recollect/audio.htm (July 1999).

  Thomas, R. (1999). On the Fire Step. [On line].  Available: http://users.erols.com/rhephner/index.html (July 1999).

  Wright, J.R. (1998). World War One. [On Line].  Available: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co (July 1999).

Filed Under: History, World War 1 (WW1)

Trench Warfare In Wwi Essay

World War I was like nothing that had ever happened in the world before. Although it was inevitable, the horrific loss of life was pointless. Almost no-one except the politicians ruling agreed with it, which has been proven by soldiers diary's, and most famously the football match between the British and the Germans on Christmas Day 1914. All-in-all, World War 1 resulted in a revolution in infantry tactics which fundamentally altered how wars were fought. The armies which clashed in August 1914 operated on essentially 19th century doctrines, large units of riflemen were screened by cavalry and supported by artillery. Commanders expecting a decisive engagements to settle the war rapidly. The British, French, Germans, and Russians that marches off the war in August 1914 all assumed that the War would be over in a few months if not weeks. No one anticipated a struggle that would endure over 4 years. Sweeping maneuvers exposed the cavalry and infantry to the killing power of modern weapons. Modern weapons, especially artillery and machine guns as well as accurate rapid-fire rifles proved devastating, especially when used against the tactics field commanders employed in the initial phases of the War. Field operations by 1916 had, after the loss of millions, been fundamentally changed. The professional armies of 1914 were devastated and were replaced by conscripted replacements. What began as a rapid war of movement soon settled down to static trench warfare and became a brutal war of attrition. Both the Germans and the French and British began digging trenches to stay alive. Eventually parallel trench systems stretched from the Swiss border to the English Channel. There were about 40,000 kilometers of trenches on the Western Front alone. And so Trench warfare became the biggest part of World War 1...

The general condition of the Trenches fought in during World War 1 were terrible. The trenches were constantly filled with mud, water, blood, urine, shrapnel, body parts and other such disgusting items. Because of these items constantly filling the trenches, men's feet were constantly in these terrible conditions, and it eventually caused trench foot. Men would "live" in these trenches for months on end. Trench foot wasn't the only thing that came from living in the frontline, other conditions such as shell shock, lice, illness from poor hygiene and most commonly, death. Soldiers would never get a good nights sleep because of the shelling, the smell and uncomfortable conditions. Despite these terrible conditions, most soldiers would try and keep the spirits up and be thankful for the protection it would give them.

Communication trenches would be used to pass messages between the different trench...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Trench Warfare in World War 1

1435 words - 6 pages Trench Warfare in WWIWorld War I began the horrific sequence of world conflicts that characterize the 20th century. It caused the Russian Revolutions of 1917 that made Russia communist, and led directly to World War II, Adolf Hitler's "war of revenge". The Cold War continued the...

The Mark I Tank’s Role in Changing Trench Warfare

1516 words - 6 pages During the First World War, 1914 to 1918, the “Western Front” referred to a series of trench lines that ran from the Belgian coast, to the Alps. The Western Front was a direct result of the stagnation. Both the axis and allied sides “dug in” and settled down to a war of attrition, with little movement over three years. Born from the need to break the domination of trenches and machine guns over the Western Front, Britain designed the world’s...

Trench Warfare in WW1

680 words - 3 pages World War 1 is perhaps best known for being a war fought in trenches, ditches dug out of the ground to give troops protection from enemy artillery and machine-gun fire.The trenches spread from the East to the West. By the end of 1914, trenches stretched all along the 475 miles front between the Swiss border and the Channel coast. In some places, enemy trenches...

This is a four page essay on the interwar period between WWI and WWII, and the European advancements in warfare at that point in history.

915 words - 4 pages The Inter-war period between World War I and World War II was a time that governments relied on treaties and pacts to maintain peace rather than wage war. Some of these treaties and pacts did more to instigate war than to help deter it. Some examples of these are the Versailles Treaty,...

Warfare of the World Wars

1568 words - 6 pages Since the dawn of mankind, we have used tools to assist our daily needs. In no time, simple tools became weapons, and throughout our history we have witnessed the evolution of these tools of destruction. From swords to the bow and arrow, and revolvers to atomic bombs, warfare has been an ever-changing industry. Warfare of the Second World War greatly differs from that of World War One. Within the short twenty-five year time period between wars,...

World War I: Its causes and effects

1617 words - 6 pages During the late 1800's and early 1900's most European nations were experiencing dramatic changes, socially and economically. Populations were rising and falling, social classes were shifting, and new political leaders were eager to make their mark on the world. As these changes were forced inevitably upon the nations, the balance of European powers became altered. Westernized...

World War I: United States Involvement

1676 words - 7 pages "He Kept us Out of War" (World War I Quotes). This quote was a democratic slogan stated during the election of 1916 on behalf of President Woodrow Wilson. This slogan makes an attempt to refer to the good leadership qualities and decisions that President Wilson made to keep the United States of America out of the war and that is why he should be elected again to serve as President. Though this made a valid argument to show that Wilson was...

The Development of a Stalemate on the Western Front

1094 words - 4 pages The Development of a Stalemate on the Western Front The main reason trenches developed on the western front is due to the failure of the Schlieffen plan, if it had not been for this elaborate quick way to win the war by Germany, trench warfare may never have developed in WWI. As the Germans were being pushed back from Marne they had to dig trenches to protect themselves from the advancing allies, and the allies mirrored...

The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

1395 words - 6 pages In June 28, 1914, countries still searched for the power that was seen during the age of imperialism, but how can anyone conquer a nation that is already civilized?To that the answer is war. A war that can cause one's boundary lines to increase and bring pride to one's country. War is the answer, but how does one start a war? At the time of the death of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand the world was at the fringe of war. Nations searched for a...

WWI paper through the eyes of a reporter in the middle of the war.

1221 words - 5 pages The war in Europe has just broken out!! This is a World War and is considered to be the "Great War." People have labeled this due to the thought that this is to be the war to end all wars. So far, this has proven to be false. In fact it actually has made war easier to fight with twice the destruction and loss of life. It has given way to new types of weaponry such as the

The Battle of Ypres, April 1915

902 words - 4 pages It came in the year 1915 when the "New Born" Canadian Army was moved from what was their somewhat silent sector on the Western Front to the apparent space in the line in front of the town of Ypres, Belgium. On the right of the Canadians would be two British Divisions, and on the left would be a French division comprised of Algerian colonialists.It would be here, at Ypres on April 22, 1915...

Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Essay On Ww1 Trenches”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *