Trench Warfare In WW1 Essay Research Paper

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Trench Warfare In WW1 Essay, Research Paper World War 1: The Life in Trenches World War 1 is perhaps best known for being a war fought in trenches (Grolier 94), ditches dug out of the ground to give troops protection from enemy artillery and machine-gun fire. In Erich Remarque’s novel All Quite on the Western Front that is exactly how he described trench warfare. Remarque showed World War 1 as a war fought in trenches, which he depicted well leaving out only a few minor details. The trenches spread from the East to the West. By the end of 1914, trenches stretched all along the 475 miles front (Grolier 94) between the Swiss border and the Channel coast. In some places, enemy trenches were less than thirty yards apart (Stewart 40). Although trenches spread for many miles,

their appearance varied. Upon looking more closely, one could see that each army’s trench line was actually a series of three trenches. These three lines connected at various points by small, twisted trenches (Stewart 40). These three lines were called front, support, and reserve trenches. The front line trenches usually measured six feet and had a zigzag pattern to prevent enemy fire from sweeping the entire length of the trench. Between the two opposing front lines laid, an area called “No Man’s Land” that measured from 7 yards to 250 yards in width. This area was littered with barbed wire, tin scrapes, and mines to reduce the chance of enemy crossing. The other two trenches (support, and reserve) were constructed to easily move supplies and troops to the front

trenches. Trenches varied from six to eight feet in height (Simkin). After wet rainy days trenches would get filled with water. Soldiers called these “Waterlogged tr! enches.” In these trenches, there was a need for extra support, wood boards, and sandbags were placed on the side and on the floor for extra support and a safe area for walking (Simkin). In spite of the fact that the trenches protected the soldiers, they stood no chance against the diseases. Body lice were among one of the diseases that traveled among the trenches the most. Body lice caused frenzied scratching and led to trench fever (Simkin). Fifteen percent (Simkin) of sickness was from body lice. Trench foot was another disease found in the trenches. After hours (Simkin) of standing in waterlogged trenches,

the feet would begin to numb, change color, and swell, and this would soon result in amputation. There was one way to cure trench foot without amputation, and that was to dry feet and change socks regularly (Simkin). During the winter of 1914-15, over 20,000 men in the British army were treated for trench foot (Simkin). Whale oil was used to oil the soldiers’ feet because it was much easier to take off their boots. Ten gallons of whale oil (Simkin) was used at the front lines. With the dead and dying soldiers, rats were not far behind. Rats varied in sizes. Rats could produce around 880 offspring in one year (Simkin). Rats that could not find food in trenches resorted in eating human flesh. A large rat could devour wounded and unprotected soldiers. They are bigger than any rats

I’ve ever seen–like small dogs. They are a hazard to all of us, for they attack the wounded as well as the dead. None of the wounded men want to sleep, for they fear a regiment of rats will make short order of them. Although I am healthy, the rats come close at night, smelling the food supplies I keep with me. If ever there was a true hell on earth, it is here in the trenches (Grolier 94). The trenches however did protect them from small explosions and gunfire. The German trench system was more elaborate and, according to some reports, better build and maintained. This was due to the fact that for long periods the German army was on the defensive, and needed an environment which would enable their men to resist the massive bombardments and assaults of the allies (Winter 129)