The nature of life in the trenches was a dangerous place. It was a place for the dead or for the survivors. Trenches were a front line which was dug metres underground, inside the trenches, were supplies, training areas, stores and mainly headquarters. The trenches were the main area to store arms of artillery and mortars. Life was hell for soldiers. Bearing the pain they went through, the diseases, the infections, the bad conditions living in, having to deal with sickness, all these illnesses became worse in the long run as soldiers ceased from them.
The whole idea of the trenches was to gain and to give protection from enemy lines who would want to attack their enemies once seen, so trenches were a good hiding spot hence other various reasons as well. September 1914 was when trench warfare began and ended in August 1918. In the area of the River Somme on the Western Front, the ground is deathly and is easily tunnelled. The trench sides would dissolve easily after rain so the ideas would have to be changed and wood, sandbags or any other suitable material would have to be a substitute of dirt.
Trenches were never built to be straight for a reason, in case an enemy ever jumped into the trench they could have point blank shot of everyone hiding inside it, whereas, trenches were built in a zigzag form to avoid quick target shots from enemies. The living conditions in the trenches were unbearable. In order to minimise the risk of trench foot (a disease on the feet) they would have to build duckboards on the bottom of trenches to clear the mud and faeces at the bottom. The health risk was very severe and was a maximised hazard of death as the unhygienic smell can affect the body.
The weather was a big factor in the trenches, temperatures down to less than 10 degrees Celsius was made impossible for soldiers to cope while sleeping or doing any activity. Diseases such as frost bites could occur as well as exposure and trench foot. Uses of secondary weapons were used in the war as well as fire weaponry. Secondary weapons such as grenades, bombs, gas bombs, and much more were used and it was effective at long and short range targets. Gas masks were used continually due to the gas mixing with the air and making it hard to breathe so gas masks were introduced to protect the face from burnt skin as well as inhaling it.
The main diseases caught while in trenches were trench foot, shell shock, blindness from mustard gas, snakes, infected rats, grenades, bombs, colds from low temperatures, frost bite, gangrene, body lice was a main disease maker as it irritated soldiers to itch numerous times of the day and that would cause infectious diseases on skin and could be caught off one another, the insufferable conditions, stench from rotting bodies, self-inflicting punishments and as well as suicide due to the trauma and depression. Body lice were a main factor in the trenches.
It brought upon soldiers infections, high fevers, diseases and probably death. Lice would stay on the body throughout the whole day and eat at the flesh and irritate soldiers, they would have to itch and itch and itch continuously in order to get the irritation feeling away. The aftermath would leave redness, bad smells, trench fever, first symptoms and shooting pains around the body and high illnesses. Many of the other diseases were much similar to lice and the treatment was similar was well but some things did differ, such as the kind of sickness, disease and the way the “infection” was going to affect the soldier.
Mud affected the body as well as their existence, what they ate, what they were wearing and how they breathed. Mud was an enemy and misery to soldiers. Trench foot was a painful swelling of the feet caused by constant absorption in water. Some cases, toes could rot off and that can lead to gangrene and that can be led to amputation. Rats were known as “trench rats” because they were sizes of small dogs. Rats would consume food that was left on the ground as well as fresh food and take all food supplies which would then be limited for soldiers the next day or so.
Rats were also good humour for the soldiers as they would attract it to food and shoot them once they seem them and hang them as a “trophy”. Gas gangrene was an easy target for many soldiers, the least of their problems were rats. They had to survive and live to continue the war, they couldn’t afford to inhale dangerous gases and die instantly. If the gas was ever inhaled, it would destroy the tissue inside the human body and the body will decay gradually and disintegrate. Gas masks were then produced.
The cold fell to temperature of minus Forty degrees Celsius; nevertheless, trenches had temperature of minus Fifteen degrees Celsius. Soldiers had to manage with the cold, hard to believe, it was worse than lice. The cold made it impossible to sleep. Frostbite affected many men and frequently directed to infection, decomposition and later on, amputation, along with hypothermia. In addition the infections led to boils, impetigo (a contagious skin disease caused by streptococcal bacteria, forming pustules and yellow sores), ulcers, hypothermia, frostbite, gangrene and amputation.
There were many psychological effects that were put onto soldiers such as trauma, shell shock, tics, a feeling of disillusionment and a growing sense of distrust of political leaders. The effects led to long term effects which made them think about the past most of their lives and that caused controversy to war officials. In conclusion, life in the trenches was difficult and distressing. Soldiers sacrificed their life to create peace in the world but it continued unfortunately. As oppose to all the past dramatic effects on soldiers, they had to live with it their whole lives, having to go through long or short term effects.