The First World War will be a war that shall always be remembered with tragic thoughts. This was to be the first war in which a man could rarely see his enemy. One would just shoot his gun and hope for the best. Trenches played a major role in this war. In fact the whole war revolved around trench warfare. This is not the only war to use trench warfare, but it was a much bigger conflict than any of the others. Soldiers lived, ate, slept, fought, and died in the trenches. This drove some men crazy. The British troops were forced to stay in a big muddy ditch and listen to millions of shells explode and just hope that the Germans are dying. The Germans were just trying to outlast the bombardment, and they were awaiting the attack of the British infantry. This must have affected their morale a great deal. But the question is, what were effects of the conditions in the trenches on the morale of the soldiers? It is believed that living in the trenches would have greatly hurt the morale of the soldiers because it was such horrible place to be.
With the advancement of artillery technology for indirect fire (lobbing bombs onto an enemy rather than shooting directly at him) and the unlimited mass of firepower brought onto the battlefield, soldiers of the First World War quickly found themselves living underground in huge trench/bunker systems for their own survival. Since soldiers were just lobbing bombs towards the enemy's' trenches, it was necessary to bury oneself as much as possible. So the Germans made massive trenches, some over one hundred and fifty feet deep, to bear the heavy artillery firing of the British. It takes the humanity out of the soldiers' lives. They become like little mice...
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...conditions were so bad in the trenches that men would lose sight of the goal, but rather focus on the horrible situation in which they have been placed. This enables the enemy to overpower them more easily.
It is important in battle for one to keep a cool and steady head. Also, as Fussell teaches, the conditions need to be bearable as well. It is nearly impossible to keep a cool and steady head when one is overcome with repulsion of ones current location. That is definitely one of the reasons trench warfare did not survive over the past few decades. Morale continues to be one of the top priorities of any army. The importance of morale is becoming a global concept excepted by armies across the globe.
Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. London: Oxford University Press, 1975.
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