Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Hell of the trenches

History sites to use
BBC on this day since 1953
On this
World War 1 Encyclopedia
Australian War Memorial
Victoria Cross recipients
RSL Virtual War Memorial
Interactive documentary on the Great War
Time Maps sites for the class
Windows to the Great War
History and geography
Just real interesting

Some great vision on the trenches

The following are excellent videos to show the nature and suffering of the trenches

* World War in colour: Episode: Slaughter in the trenches

* The reality of the trenches

* The madness of the Somme

Questions to ponder
* Why did the war become a trench stalemate*?
* What is meant when it is said that the trench stalemate led to a 'war of attrition'?
* What did the Generals do in trying to break the trench stalemate?
* What should the Generals have done to break the trench stalemate?
* Is there any way you can defend the Generals in their tactics and approach to the trench stalemate?

* A stalemate is a when a situation in which further action is blocked; a deadlock

Some background on the trenches

Life in the trenches was agonisingly uncomfortable.  In the wet months, the soldiers were constantly wet and muddy, while during the dry months water was at a premium.  Washing and activities such as brushing teeth proved almost impossible under such conditions.  Sleep remained difficult during the night from movement along the trenches, bombardment and gas precaution procedures.  Men usually slept on the floor of the trench during the day.  In winter, ankle-deep mud forced the men to dig into the side of the trench like rabbits to create a dry sleeping shelf.  The mud also made movement, dryness, comfort and cleanliness extremely difficult.  In addition to mud, lack of sleep and water restrictions, the soldiers also endured fleas, lice, rats, horrific smells from rotting bodies in no-mans land, stale food, body odours and bodily wastes in the trench area.  Explosions also left a strong smell.  Each length of trench was meant to have a latrine dug into the trench wall at right angles to the main trench.  It was common for men who had never smoked before to take up the habit just to mask the terrible smells that they were exposed to for 24 hours a day.

To add to the discomfort, the soldiers faced the ever-present fear of death by snipers, enemy raids/attacks or orders to go over the top and attack.

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