World War One was a brutal and deadly war that introduced the beginning of the modern war tactics. No one thought this First World War to blow up the way it did- most expected the war to end quickly, however, this clearly was an unrealistic expectation. Men and boys were eager to volunteer for war when it first began, unaware of the horrors that went along with the trench life and scarring moments on the battle field. Between the battles, travels, diseases, unsanitary living, and expansion on weapons, many soldiers died at war.
Soldiers in WWI will forever be remembered and looked up to for their brave patriotic hearts; and for dying for their country. I find it amazing how the soldiers did not give up, no matter the harsh, unfair conditions that they had to face. Without such strong and dedicated men, the world would not be what it is today. The war broke out in 1914, most Americans did not agree with this war, and found it unnecessary to get involved. However, by April, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson, The President of The United States declared war on Germany.
No one expected for the war to last anywhere near as long as it did, so men and boys were eager to Join the forces to support their country. Thousands of men rushed to the recruitment offices to volunteer for war. The rush of men enlisting were at such extreme numbers, the recruitment officers did not have the time to check the ages of the eager volunteers. The officers saw it as this: “if the volunteer wanted to fght for his country and was physically fit enough to do so, why stop him? ” This began the recruitment of the ‘Boy Soldiers’.
It is believed that around 250,000 oldiers recruited into the war were in fact, ‘Boy Soldiers’. Some boys were so determined to fght in the war, they not only lied about their age, but also lied about their names. By claiming a different name, it was impossible for the boys’ parents to track them down and ask the commanding officer to return their son home. This was the attitude for the First World War, determination and patriotic spirits filled the battle field at the beginning. When the war first began, all the American soldiers were volunteers, but this wasn’t enough.
In order to meet the need for fghting power, in May 1917, Congress passed the Selective Service Act. This act required men, who were mentally and physically able, to register with the government to be randomly selected for the military draft. By the end of 1918, 24,000,000 men were registered for the draft, and around 3,000,000 were selected for military service. Around 400,000 African Americans served in segregated units and were excluded from the naw and marines and about 1 5,000 Native Americans served as scouts, messengers, and nipers in non-segregated units.
After the long Battle of the Marne, it was clear that this war was not going to be as short as most intended. Between the realization that the war would be not ending soon, and the new knowledge of causalities of soldiers and the disturbing lifestyles of The Trench Warfare, the enthusiasm towards war quickly faded away. During World War One, most soldiers lived and fought inside underground dugouts known as trenches. These trenches were first seen when the German dug out two parallel trenches from France to the Swiss Alps in 1915.
The point of the trenches were to keep the soldiers from open fire. If the men were underground and field. There was an open field in this trench warfare however, it was called “no man’s land”. No man’s land was the land that laid between the trenches, filled with barbed wire, and when men would charge the enemy line, they would be shot down by machine guns. These trenches were extremely unsanitary, muddy ditches. The soldiers were surrounded by filth, lice, rats, mosquitos, flies, and polluted water that caused infection and disease.
The men constantly were inhaling poisonous gasses and the stench of the decaying bodies that surrounded them. Soldiers would die in the trenches, and would be buried in that very spot. The soldiers lived in these trenches, so they had to eat and sleep there too. The preparation of food was a very unsanitary process due to the environment that was surrounding the food. A common disease that were caused by this unsanitary feeding was Typhoid Fever. There were many other serious diseases swarming the trenches; Trench Foot, Lice, Rat Infestation, Trench Fever, Trench Mouth, and Shellshock.
Rats were a huge problem in the trenches. Soldiers were afraid to sleep because the rats were in their beds and would bite them, if they were to be bit, they would catch a disease. Solider Harry Patch description of the rats was, “They were hungry and as big as cats”. By the end of the war, most of the soldiers suffered from some form of shellshock, a mental trauma caused by the disturbing thing the soldiers experienced at war. The symptoms from shellshock varied, a few are: nightmares, uncontrollable diarrhea, anic attacks, mental and physical paralysis.
Soldiers who had stabbed men in the face developed hysterical tics of their own facial muscles, soldiers who stabbed men in the abdomen would experience stomach cramps, and some snipers lost their vision. World War One was clearly a horrifying experience for the soldiers. There were millions of deaths, around 37,000,000 causalities came out of the war. Only about 11,000,000 of those deaths were from actually being killed, the rest were from disease and other factors included in the environment of war.
Remember, not all of these soldiers were men, there were many boys who fought in these battles and died, or saw deaths, lived in such harsh conditions, and killed other men and boys. Life of the soldiers would never be the same. If they did survive, they wished they didn’t once they returned home. Life as they knew it before war, was impossible to get back to. Mainly because of the shellshock and trauma caused by the war. The soldiers in WWI truly put their country and patriotic spirits above their own needs.
They lived in itches with rats, bugs, diseases, dead bodies, and all together extremely unsanitary conditions, all to fght for their country. That is amazing, and the men who risked and lost their lives in the battles of the First World War will never be forgotten. Sources: http://www. bbc. co. uk/history/worldwars/wwone/shellshock_ol . shtml http:// www. historylearningsite. co. uk/boy_soldiers. htm http://www. historylearningsite. co. uk/home_front_1914_to_1918. htm http:// The Americans Reconstruction to the 21st Century. McDougal Littell http:// history. state. gov/milestones/1914-1920/wrw’i