Life for men and women on the battlefront during WW1

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Source A This photo was taken during World War 1. It shows us how the soldiers had to travel through the mud and how it was knee high.

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Source B This photo was taken during World War 1. It shows nurses caring for the wounded soldiers on the Battlefield.

Conditions for men on the battlefront
Negative experiences

The extremely poor weather conditions (heavy rain and wind) resulted in huge amounts of high density mud. These conditions affected the strategies that both armies were planning. They not only had to face machine gun fires while running towards enemy trenches but had to run through this mud, often getting stuck or going through it very slowly. Wounded soldiers who fell in to the mud often drowned in it due to the extreme thickness of it. Because of this, thousands of soldiers could not be found, lost in the mud and were put under the category of “missing, presumed dead”. This mud was also extremely unhygienic often mixed with human waste and infested with rats. Diseases spread on the battlefront were trench foot, dysentery and other infectious diseases. These diseases were often caused by contaminated food. It happened as a result by too much time within a trench and keeping the feet too moist. Trench foot was a very common disease and there was no simple cure. If left untreated, it could turn gangrenous and the foot would have to be amputated.

Positive experiences

Going off to war gave men the opportunity to experience and gain survival skills. It gave them an opportunity to grow as a person. They became stronger, for the reason that they were forced to sacrifice everything, to leave behind relative and loved ones in order to fight in hour of your country.

Conditions for women on the battlefront
Positive experiences

Before WWI, women were basically expected to care for the home and children. During WWI, that changed. Women were recruited as switchboard operators and to work for the Red Cross, tending to soldiers overseas and on the home front. They also went to work in factories to produce the parts for war machines (i.e guns). The nurses of WWI worked on the front line, helping the wounded soldiers. They made dressings for scars and battle wounds, ran canteens, and drove the ambulances. Nurses also organized, cleaned, and set-up hospital rooms and equipment. Experienced nurses would be stationed at hospitals along the front lines. These hospitals only received the severely injured soldiers. Women were able to work from the age of 30, they gained respect and were rewarded. After the war they had earned the right to vote.

Negative experiences

Women may have lost their husbands and sons in the war, many suffered with depression for the rest of their lives because of this.They had cope with an impending food crisis and were at the risk of being bombed. The conditions at factories were horrible, many women contracted cancer and became infertile.

Source C
This is a poem written during World World 1 by Herbert Read (1893-1968) called “The Happy Warrior”.

His wild heart beats with painful sobs,
His strin’d hands clench an ice-cold rifle,
His aching jaws grip a hot parch’d tongue,
His wide eyes search unconsciously.

He cannot shriek.

Bloody saliva
Dribbles down his shapeless jacket.

I saw him stab
And stab again
A well-killed Boche.

This is the happy warrior,
This is he…

Wars in general are negative however, World War 1 had many positive aspects. Many men had grown inside as well as outside. As well as it giving women a chance to prove what they are capable of. They had gained respect.

By Sarah and Tamina

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