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Trench Warfare Essay

1732 words - 7 pages

The First World War saw a new form of warfare known as Trench warfare which involved trenches which were deep long dugouts made by the soldiers that lived in these trenches. The trenches proved useful as they protected the soldiers from artillery and bomb fire and were most likely situated in the eastern and western fronts of Europe. However the conditions of the trenches were far from exuberant but were in fact severely terrible. There was bad hygiene throughout the trenches, for example soldiers bathed probably only once a month and as such were prone to diseases such as trenches fever (which were due to the lice attracted by the bad hygiene). The weather was no exception as well, in the ...view middle of the document...

The source is aimed at students, so naturally the objective of the source would be to educate. This makes the source dependable as there is no reason for the source to be biased or to not tell the complete story as its purpose is to educate. It also has the benefit of hindsight as it was written after the war period. Overall the source is valuable as it explains the various diseases that were present in the trenches, such as (dysentery, diarrhoea) and the effects that they had on people (shell shock and the constant torture of the mind). It also highlights what may have been the most dangerous illness during the First World War. The source however is limited as it does not further explain other trench illness and diseases and only focuses on the negative effects of the trenches.

Hygiene was also very poor in the trenches as the soldiers only bathed once a month and was constantly in dirty water and wore dirty clothes which brought about lices. An extract from the dairy of a nurse during the First World War clearly states the measures taken by the nurses to stop the growth of lice as lice were the main reason for trench fever and they lived in damp warm places, so the trenches were naturally a perfect growing ground for the lice. Nurses therefore had to remove lice, the more effective measure would be by candle fire but that required skill and practice, something that in those times, the nurses could not afford to risk and so had to resort to using the blunt edge of a knife to remove the lice. The source also talks about the daily routine of the nurses and some of the sacrifices made by the nurses which included cutting their hair short so that it would not be a distraction and so that they could tuck in to their caps. They would also sleep in their work clothes. The purpose of this source as it is a dairy entry, the purpose could be to record the personal experience and as such could be biased or exaggerated. The source is reliable as it is a first-hand account of a nurse’s life, and the hardship and sacrifices taken by the nurses. It is a primary source and as such provides a realistic view of the life of a nurse, but has the chance of being exaggerated as it is a first-hand account and therefore the nurse may have exaggerated her experiences. The source is helpful as it tells us the daily routine of nurses and sacrifices made by the nurses and how lice were dealt with. The source does not tell us the reason why lice were such a priority (i.e. trench fever)

Lice were not the only infestation in the trenches. Rats were also very prominent in the trenches as the author of the Goodbye to all that who was also an officer in the First World War explains. The rats came up from the canal and fed on plentiful corpses of the fallen soldiers resulting in the rats multiplying exceedingly to such an extent that the dug-out containing a spring bed was plagued with rats fighting for a severed hand in the middle of the night. From my own knowledge, I know...

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