Life on the front lines

Alex Hague

Then and Now

Lots have changed when it comes to how those in the military live on the front lines during war. Today I will be comparing the living conditions of those living in the trenches during World War 1 and in the present.
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(Pingnews.com. "Public Domain: DW Griffith Filming in WWI Trenches by David W. Griffith Ca. 1917-1919 (NARA).").

Conditions in World War 1

Compared to WWI, the conditions for soldiers living on the front lines now are not too bad. Back during WWI the soldiers lived mostly in the trenches, having to constantly be on the lookout for the enemy and repairing the trenches. If nothing was going on then they would find a spot to sleep or try and write a quick letter home. They also had rat, lice, and fly problems, mostly in the summer. In the colder months, things would just get worse. In the autumn, they would have to fight to keep the trench walls up due to all of the rain, and in the winter the ground would freeze. Also in the autumn it would rain so much that the water would be up to the soldiers waists. Due to standing in all of that water, some soldiers would develop what was known as "trench foot", which is when the feet would swell, in some cases the soldier would develop Gangrene and the foot would have to be amputated. When it came to food, most of it would be stale by the time it reached them, and would consist of things like bread, tea, and hard biscuits, hot food being extremely rare ("Trench Warfare." BBC- Schools Online World War One- H.Q.- Articles - Western Front.).

Conditions in the present

Now in the present, the soldiers actually have a place to sleep. They have barracks and hot meals, but things are rationed. A lot. For example, one thing, other than food, that is rationed is showers. Most soldiers have a rationed shower and there is limited if any air conditioning ( McEntee, Marni. "Iraq Living Conditions Highlight Different Ways Army, USAF Operate."). Now considering the place they are in, that isn't too good, but still better than the trenches, where bathing wasn't really an option. They are given three meals a day. Most soldier's only form of communication with home is through letter, although some bases might have limited internet and telephone access, and sending letters is free, but packages cost. They have chores to do, like clean their quarters and occasionally have to go and collect food and water. During their free time, soldiers will usually do something like play a sport or a video game.

Although there is one camp, Camp Victory, that is pretty luxurious. They have a swimming pool, restaurants, you name it. Rumors are even spread about the camp and how much nicer it is compared to the camps that the soldiers normally stay in (Gordon, Michael R., and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. "In Shift, U.S. Will Send 450 Advisers to Help Iraq Fight ISIS.").

Effects on soldiers

In WWI, the effects are fairly obvious. They were usually bored, tired, or sick. They were always on the lookout in case of an enemy attack, so finding rest was pretty difficult. So you can begin to imagine the effect it had on the soldiers, mentally and physically, resulting in fatigue. Now in the present, the big problem is a lack of bathing. Compared to soldiers back during WWI, the soldiers now are probably more rested than back then, having living quarters and at least a hot meal as opposed to having to sleep in the trenches and eat food that would probably be stale by the time it reached them.

How the public and military views this and what is being done

So far, the public doesn't really seem to know about the living conditions for soldiers in the present. The families obviously won't like the limited modern communication, but understand the possible risk behind using it. Most of the soldiers don't really mind the conditions, some even admitting that they like the rougher way of life as opposed to a cozy life, like the one observed at Camp Victory. The government as of now has not said anything on attempting to improve the living conditions for soldiers, instead they are actually sending over more troops to help with the fight in Iraq. According to Obama, they are planning to send over four hundred and fifty additional troops to help in the fight against ISIS (Gordon, Michael R., and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. "In Shift, U.S. Will Send 450 Advisers to Help Iraq Fight ISIS.").

Works Cited

Websites:

1. Das, Santanu. "Sensuous Life in the Trenches." Sensuous Life in the Trenches- The British Library. The British Library, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/sensuous-life-in-the-trenches>.


2. Gordon, Michael R., and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. "In Shift, U.S. Will Send 450 Advisers to Help Iraq Fight ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 June 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/world/middleeast/us-embracing-a-new-approach-on-battling-isis-in-iraq.html?_r=0>.


3. "Life at Iraq's Camp Victory." Life at Iraq's Camp Victory. Military.com, 3 May 2006. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,96060,00.html>.


4. McEntee, Marni. "Iraq Living Conditions Highlight Different Ways Army, USAF Operate." Stars and Stripes. Star and Stripes, 18 Oct. 2003. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <http://www.stripes.com/news/iraq-living-conditions-highlight-different-ways-army-usaf-operate-1.12784>.


5. Sachdeva, Sam. "Iraqi Military Base Criticised." Stuff. Stuff, 8 Oct. 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/72838414/serious-problems-at-taji-military-base-in-iraq--us-report>.


6. "Trench Warfare." BBC- Schools Online World War One- H.Q.- Articles - Western Front. BBC, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/worldwarone/hq/wfront1_02.shtml>.


Images:

1. M., John. "Recreated Trenches in Clipstone Forest... (C) John M." :: Geograph Britain and Ireland. Geograph, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4497519>.


2. Pingnews.com. "Public Domain: DW Griffith Filming in WWI Trenches by David W. Griffith Ca. 1917-1919 (NARA)." Flickr. Yahoo!, 1 May 2007. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/pingnews/479886575>.


3. The U.S. Army. "Iraq." Iraq - Flickr. Flickr, 10 Apr. 2007. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/469927657>.


4. The U.S. Army. "Crawling Low in Iraq." Crawling Low in Iraq - Flickr. Flickr, 23 Mar. 2010. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/4472636989>.