Life as a World War I Soldier
Life as a soldier in World War I was no “walk in the park” for anyone involved. The soldiers fought through plenty of gruesome battles that altered their lives in great ways. On the other hand some soldiers were able to still find joy and humor in their lives. For example one soldier, a Captain Alexander Stewart, describes in his diary how he was “annoyed when he had to stop smoking to shoot a German who gained entry to his trench.” Capt Stewart started the war diary in 1915 when he was sent to France and then Belgium with the 3rd Scottish Rifles. He was finally sent home in 1917. Captain Stewart was commissioned by the Scottish regiment, the Cameroonians, in 1915 at the age of 39 and was sent to France to command C Company after his training. After which he was then sent to fight on the front line. Captain Stewart was sent home to Richmond, Surrey, after two years on the front line. Captain Stewart was in such battles as the Somme. He was due to return to the front line when the war ended a year later, but he instead turned his attention to writing his memoir. However, he suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder following the war and spoke little of his experiences before his death from old age in 1964, at the age of 88.
British soldiers and civilians had high expectations of their government following World War 1, most of which did not eventuate. The soldiers needed understanding of their suffering and emotional pains of the war, while the British civilians felt that Germany’s reparations were highly important in the short-term. Employment was a significant issue to both groups, with the soldiers arriving ...
For many years after the war he would wake up screaming in the night, but he never talked about it, instead he would record his memories in his journal. In his journal, Captain Stewart mostly describes the conditions of the trenches, saying things like: “The dugouts in this part of the line were infested with rats. They would frequently walk over one when asleep. I was much troubled by them coming and licking the brilliantine off my hair; for this reason, I had to give up using grease on my head. I never heard them biting anyone.” Captain Stewart was just one of the soldiers that documented the occurrences in the Great War; many other soldiers had thoughts of their own. Soldiers in World War I constantly had to deal with the face of death and rat infestation in the trenches. In busy sectors the constant shellfire directed by the enemy brought random death, whether their victims were lounging in a trench or lying in a dugout. Novices were cautioned against their natural inclination to peer over the parapet of the trench into “No Man’s Land.” Many men died on their first day in the trenches as a consequence of a precisely aimed sniper’s bullet. The disgusting infestation of rats was also a down side of the trenches.
There were two main types, the brown and the black rat. Both were despised but the brown rat was especially feared, gorging themselves on human remains, they could grow to the size of a cat. The soldiers would try to rid the trench of rats by using such methods as gunfire or clubbing them to death. However it was pointless, there were too many. A single rat couple could produce up to 900 offspring in a year, spreading infection and contaminating food. Even though the rats were the size of cats they weren’t the only nuisance in the trench. The soldiers also had to deal with lice and trench foot. Lice were a never-ending problem, breeding in the seams of filthy clothing and causing men to itch unceasingly. Even though the clothing was periodically washed and deloused, lice eggs invariably remained hidden in the seams; within a few hours of the clothes being re-worn the body heat generated would cause the eggs to hatch. Lice caused Trench Fever, a particularly painful disease that began suddenly with severe pain followed by high fever. Recovery, away from the trenches, took up to twelve weeks. Trench foot was another medical condition peculiar to trench life. It was a fungal infection of the feet caused by cold, wet and unsanitary trench conditions. It could turn gangrenous and result in amputation. Trench Foot was more of a problem at the start of trench warfare; as conditions improved in 1915 it rapidly faded, although a trickle of cases continued throughout the war. The Great War was never meant to last as long as it did. Every soldier who signed up for the war in August 1914, undoubtedly, expected it to be a relatively short affair just to make a movement.
In the 1960s, 1970s or even 1980s, if you ask someone, which countries produce the best wine in the world? They would have said France, Italy or Spain. However, if you ask someone the same question nowadays, the answer would be different. The new wine industry players such as Australia, the United States and Chile are changing the global industry structure, leading the global industry trend, and ...
1. Life in the Trenches. http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/trenchlife.htm
2. The Life of a World War I Soldier. http://edhelper.com/ReadingComprehension_35_295.html
3. World War 1: American Soldier’s Letters Home. http://wwar1letters.blogspot.com/
4. World War One. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/
5. Soldier’s diary of the First World War. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1568761/Soldiers-diary-of-the-First-World-War.html