Life and Suffering in the Trenches

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World War I, also known as the Great War, endured from the summer of 1914 until the late fall of 1918. The war was fought between the Allies, which consisted mainly of the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire, and the Central Powers, which consisted mainly of the German Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria (Alliances - Entente and Central Powers). In total, it is estimated that twelve million civilians and nine million combatants died during this horrific and devastating war (DeGroot 1). When the war originated in 1914, many people thought that it would be a war of movement that would rapidly be settled. However, that changed when the Germans, who were trying to reach and capture the city of Paris, were forced to retreat during the Battle of the Marne in September 1914 (Ellis 10). German General von Falkenhayn, who felt that his troops must at all costs maintain the parts of France and Belgium that they had overtaken, ordered his men to dig in and form defensive trench lines (Ellis 10). The Allies could not fracture the enemies lines and were forced to create trenches of their own (Ellis 10). This was only the beginning of trench warfare. A war of movement had quickly come to a standstill on the Western Front. A massive trench line, 475 miles long, swiftly spread and extended from the North Sea to the Swiss Frontier (Ellis 10). With neither side budging, soldiers were forced to live in the most miserable of conditions. Simply put, life in the trenches was a living hell. A lieutenant of the 2nd Scottish rifles wrote, “No one who was not there can fully appreciate the excruciating agonies and misery through which the men had to go [through] in those days” (Ellis 5... ... middle of paper ... ...War, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2011. “Fire Step.” Firstworldwar.com. First World War, n.d. Wed. 06 Apr. 2011. “In the Trenches.” 1914-1918.net. The Long, Long Trail, n.d. Wed. 05 Apr. 2011. “Lice.” Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Spartacus Educational, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2011. “Snipers in the First World War.” Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Spartacus Educational, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2011. “Trench Food.” Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Spartacus Educational, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2011. “Trench Foot.” Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Spartacus Educational, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2011. “Trench Rats.” Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Spartacus Educational, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2011. “Trench Warfare: Why was it so costly in human lives in World War ?.” Harris-academy.com. Harris Academy, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2011. “Waterlogged Trenches.” Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Spartacus Educational, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2011.

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