05 April 2012
Western Civilization 2
The Great War
The war was supposed to be short, and be one of great movement like many other wars. However, it was characterized by its lack of movement instead. These standstill years were represented on the Western Front from October 1914 to March 1918. There was some movement on the Western front during these years though. The war began with movement by the Germans advancing throughout Belgium and France. Quickly though stalemate and trench warfare became the way of the war. Life in the trenches during the war varied between different fronts and sectors. But what was it really like for the men fighting in the trenches?
Due to the rise of Nationalism, we saw every country trying to prove it was the best. France wanted to prove themselves after the embarrassment from the Franco-Prussian War. Germany was a new, young nation that was trying to show it’s worth the world. At first the German Army swept through Belgium and was in pursuit of Paris but Germany failed because they did not implement the Sciflen Plan quickly enough to overwhelm their opponent and Paris survived. This finally led stalemate and to the true reason why the Great War took so much longer than expected, Trench warfare. The days of the war become full of long grueling days were despite much blood shed, they would only advance a few yards. The process of maneuvering in the battlefields became a very difficult exhausting task.
Why was there so much initial enthusiasm for the war?
People were disillusioned to what war really entailed. Nationalism was a growing theme leading up to the war, and all people truly knew about wars were the grand stories told by soldiers. When people enlisted for the war to fight for their countries they believed it would be over by Christmas. But, they were faced with the reality of a much different type of war.
Describe the training need by soldiers to fight this new style warfare.
There was much need for the training of soldiers for the Great War. There were incredible advancements in technology and the soldiers required to be taught how to use these weapons to their full potential. The Great War was when we first saw the use of the machine gun. This was much different than any rifle soldiers had been trained to fight with before. We also saw a use of tanks for the first time. Soldiers had to be prepared how to operate them safely and effectively. Later in the war, there was the use of barbed wire, and mustard gas. The soldiers had to learn how to optimize the use of the barbed wire and also how to wear gas masks properly. Lastly, the soldiers had to acquire the skill to fight in completely new fashion, from a trench. Fighting in trenches had never been done before and soldiers were forced to increase the overall hand-to-hand combat to survive.
Describe life in the frontline trenches, touching particularly on the subject of how men fighting the war survived the horrors of the trenches.
The trenches were an awful place to be, far worse than what could be imagined. They were full of much boredom, rats, frogs, lice, a horrible stench, and daily deaths. It was nearly impossible to stay healthy and dry, to get necessary food, and to maintain a clean operating weapon. Rats in the multitudes of millions infested the trenches, since rats could reproduce up to 900 offspring in a year. Some of these rats could grow to the size of a cat, and fed themselves off of human remains. But, rats were not the only source on infection to the soldiers. Lice were also a huge problem. “Lice caused Trench Fever, a particularly painful disease that began suddenly with severe...