Many Soldiers faced hardships during World War 1. The hardships of intensive fighting made them suffer from diseases like shell shock and dysentery. Life in the trenches was problematic. Body lice and trench rats were one part of the many hardships they faced.
Shell Shock - Is a Posttraumatic stress disorder resulting from wartime combat or similar experiences.| Also known as combat fatigue, Shell shock was one of the worst things soldiers could face. Between 1914 and 1918 the British Army identified 80,000 men as suffering from shell-shock. A much 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 reused to obey the orders of their officers. Some responded to the pressures of shell-shock by deserting. If you were an officer with shell shock you were likely to be sent back home to recuperate. However, the army was less sympathetic to ordinary soldiers with shell shock. Some senior officers took the view that these men were stupid cowards who were trying to get out of fighting.
One of the hardships that soldiers had to face was the disease called Dysentery. The disease was the inflammation of the large intestines. It caused severe stomach pains and diarrhea. Some soldiers vomited and had a fever. The bacteria would enter through the mouth through food and water. The soldiers could have also received the disease through contact with infected people and human feces. Many soldiers, through feces, lose the important salts and fluids in the body. The body would then dehydrate and the soldier could die. In the trenches, there was no proper sanitation, so Dysentery was common. Many soldiers drank contaminated water which was a problem. Soldiers were supplied with water bottles, but they refilled them with unsanitary water. To purify it, they used “chloride of lime.” It added a disliked taste.
Body Lice – Many men in the trenches suffered from lice. They left blotchy red bite marks all over the body. They also created a sour and stale smell. Different methods were used to remove the lice. A lighted candle was fairly effective but was also bad because many soldiers did not know how to hold a candle and they burned their clothes. Many men would take a bath in a hot water tub while their clothes went through delousing machines. Unfortunately, this rarely worked. A fair proportion of eggs remained in the clothes and within two or three hours of the clothes being put on again a man’s body heat had hatched them out. They caused scratching and carried disease. The disease did not kill, but it did stop soldiers from fighting.
Rats were a major issue in the trenches. Soldiers were buried where they were killed. When people started digging for new trenches and dugouts, many decomposing bodies were found underground. Many soldiers in the trenches littered the trenches with food scrapes. These corpses and litter attracted any rats. The rats were extremely large. “One soldier wrote:' The rats were huge. They were so big the would eat a wounded man if he couldn’t defend himself.’ Rats would steal food from the soldier’s pockets. Rats would be found on corpses. The Rats usually ate the eyes first and then made their way towards the inside of the body. Another soldier while on patrol saw a couple dead bodies and said, ‘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. It displayed a grimacing face, stripped of flesh; the skull bare, and the eyes devoured and from the yawning mouth leapt a rat.”
You might all think that all the people who lived in trenches just lived in luxurious dugouts and just got out to fight during the day and went back in for the night. But there was more to it.
In the trenches, soldiers had to complete different tasks. They didn’t just fight like many people think that that’s all soldiers do. Some soldiers didn’t spend much time in trenches. Armies worked on a 16 day timetable. Some soldiers spend 8 days in the frontline. The frontline was awfully dangerous. Every single day “enemy shells” would fall on the trenches. Studies said that one-third of all casualties in the World War were from the trenches either dieing or wounded is caused by trenches. In the frontline trench, some soldiers would be hit by their own artillery.
Trenches were protected by barbed-wire. Many soldiers were in the wiring party, which was very unpleasant and unpopular. The barbed-wire was a little farther away from the trenches to make sure no enemies get in. Some enemies would through grenades in the trenches. Soldiers also had to place a Bangalore Torpedo. This was a long pipe filled with different explosives. Heavy explosives had to be used to destroy the barbed wire. The Bangalore Torpedo always took out the element of surprise to the soldiers. Land between two opposing trenches was called No Man’s land to the soldiers. No Man’s land contains a lot of barbed wire. The average distance between two opposing trenches is usually 50 yards. After an attack, No Man’s Land contained a lot of dead bodies of soldiers. It also contained a lot of broken and abandoned military equipment such as artillery. To Advance across No Man’s Land was very difficult. Soldiers also had to get information from the enemy which means they had to get really close to the enemy and avoid being shot. They sometimes brought their enemies back for interrogation.
The listening posts helped soldiers to find information on their enemy in a safe-way. They can find out about a “Surprise” attack and no ahead of time. They discovered information on enemy patrols. After heavy bombardment soldiers could seize or capture a crater and use it as a listening post. Pillboxes helped build the trenches strong. They measured up to 30 feet along the front and 10 feet wide. Machine-Gunners were usually housed inside pillboxes protecting them. There weren’t many pillboxes though because they were really expensive to build but weren’t really that worth it. Germans built a lot of machine-gun posts. Machine-gunners were awfully hated. They would be killed faster than other soldiers.
Trench warfare was basically guns and cannons. But in April 1915 that all changed. A new technique of warfare was created.
Chlorine Gas – Ypres is a medieval Town in Belgium. The German Army first used chlorine gas cylinders in April 1915 against the French army in Ypres. They also noticed its one of a kind smell which was like a mixture of pineapple and pepper and seeing a big yellow-green cloud of smoke. Chlorine gas destroyed the respiratory organs of its victims and this led to a slow death by asphyxiation. After the first German chlorine gas attacks, allied troops were supplied with masks of cotton pads that had been soaked in urine. It was found that the ammonia in the pad neutralized the chlorine. A disadvantage for the side that launched chlorine gas attacks was that it made the victim cough and therefore limited his intake of the poison. Only a small amount was needed to make it impossible for the soldier to keep fighting. It also killed its victim within 48 hours of the attack.
Mustard Gas – Also called Yperite, Mustard Gas was the most lethal of all the poisonous chemicals used during the war. Mustard Gas was first used by the Germans in September 1917. It was almost odorless and took 12 hours to take affect. It was so powerful that only a little amount of it had to be added to high explosive shells to be effective. Once in the soil, it remained active for several weeks. The skin of victims blistered, and the eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard Gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes stripping off the Mucus membrane. This was very, very painful and most soldiers had to be strapped to their beds. It usually took a person 4-5 weeks to die of Mustard Gas Poisoning.
Trench Life of World War I By: Sylvia and Karolina
Shell Shock <ul><li>Also known as combat fatigue </li></ul><ul><li>80,000 men suffered </li></ul><ul><li>Soldiers were classified as “malingeres” </li></ul><ul><li>Committed suicide </li></ul>
Dysentery <ul><li>Inflammation of large intestines </li></ul><ul><li>Stomach pains & diarrhea </li></ul><ul><li>Vomiting and high fever </li></ul><ul><li>Soldiers could die </li></ul><ul><li>Caused by contaminated water </li></ul>
Body Lice <ul><li>Left blotchy red marks </li></ul><ul><li>Created sour and stale smell </li></ul><ul><li>Caused scratching </li></ul><ul><li>Carried disease </li></ul><ul><li>Disease didn’t kill </li></ul>
Trench Rats <ul><li>Ate dead bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Stole food </li></ul><ul><li>Were later found inside humans </li></ul>
Frontline trenches <ul><li>Timetable </li></ul><ul><li>8 days in a trench </li></ul><ul><li>Enemy shells </li></ul>
Barbed Wire No man’s land <ul><li>Protected by barbed wire </li></ul><ul><li>No enemy could get in </li></ul><ul><li>Bangalore torpedo </li></ul><ul><li>Dead bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Abandoned artillery </li></ul>
Chlorine Gas <ul><li>Ypres, Germany </li></ul><ul><li>Big, yellow, green cloud of smoke and pineapple / pepper smell </li></ul><ul><li>Killed victims within 48 hours </li></ul>
Mustard Gas <ul><li>Most lethal </li></ul><ul><li>Odorless </li></ul><ul><li>Took 12 hours to take affect </li></ul><ul><li>Stripped off mucus membrane </li></ul><ul><li>4-5 weeks to die </li></ul>
Bibliography <ul><li>John Simkin. “Trench Warfare” </li></ul><ul><li>3 May 2006. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWtrench.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Realities of War: The Trenches, Weapons, and Death. |Online video clip| </li></ul><ul><li>html. http://www.unitedstreaming.com/index.cfm </li></ul><ul><li>Shell Shock during World war One [online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 h ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/wwone/images/ss_effectsof_shellshock.jpg </li></ul><ul><li>Shell Shock Patient [online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 http://www.wfa-usa.org/new/jpg/sshock5.jpg </li></ul><ul><li>Body Lice Body Louse [online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 http://www.micropest.com/photos/body-lice-louse.jpg </li></ul><ul><li>British casualties of a chlorine gas…[online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 http://www.civilization.ca/cwm/canvas/tre/images/cwc1046.jpg . </li></ul>
Bibliography Part # 2 <ul><li>Mustard Gas is treated during WWI [online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>http://knowmore.org/images/thumb/9/92/180px-Mustard_gas.jpg </li></ul><ul><li>Mustard gas molecule.gif [online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 http://www.impgames.com/images/Mustard%20gas%20molecule.gif </li></ul><ul><li>Water Points [online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWdystentry.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Dead Germans in Trenches [online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWfrontline.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Paths of Glory [online image] </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWnoman.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Capture of a British Block house </li></ul><ul><li>8 May 2006 http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWposts.htm </li></ul>