The Life of a WWI Soldier

by Justin Chang, Neil Cornwell, and Faith Couch

A Rough Life

The life of a WWI solider was not an easy one. The low pays, harsh conditions, and uncertainty of life made it difficult to live.

Ages of the Soldiers

The range of ages of the soldiers was 12-40 years old, the average age being in the mid 20s. There were also many children in the war. There is a story of a 12 year old boy who fought for the British. He was said to be too short to see over the trenches. His true age was revealed when he broke down in tears under shellfire and was hauled before an unsympathetic officer.

"Every army in The Great War used kid Soldiers. At the start of the war the enthusiasm was go great that boys and sometimes even girls had a hard time being stopped from enlisting. In all countries, recruting officers turned the other cheek when children under the age of 18 showed up to join the armies. By the end of the way children were more than welcomed. The need of human bodies were astonishing. Even Kids who werent trained were sent to the trenches from Belgium, France, Russia and Turkey, where they made friends with soldiers and died with them as well." -Rob Ruggenberg

Sources: "Boy, 12, was 'youngest British soldier in First World War'" by Julie Henry, <>. "Children of the Great War" by Rob Ruggenberg, <>.


The salaries of soldiers were very low, about 8 cents a day. An interesting fact regarding wages during World War One is that British women whom were working in munition factories earned more than a serviceman's basic wage.

Source: "Were soldiers ever well paid?" by BBC, <>

Life in the Trenches

Trench warfare was adopted from the civil war and carried through the first World War where it came to an end in 1918. During the war, trenches variad depending on the area that he trenches were dug. They ranges from hard rock, to soft and muddy soil.

Soldiers were usually only in the trenches for a period of four days and were then moved to a support line for four days and then had four days to rest. However, this would usually depend on the situation that the soldiers were in and they could be in the trenches for up to a week.

Source: "In the Trenches" by Chris Baker, <>.

Soldier Ranks

Below is a chart of the ranks of the soldiers in the American and British armies during WWI. The dark blue represents the navy, the green represents the army, and the light blue represents the air force.

Image Source: <>

US Entering the War

The United States Government enacted the Selective Service Act which authorized the government to raise a national army for the entry into World War One. This act declared war on Germany. The sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat heightened the tension between the Unites States and Germany. This is referred to as the final tipping point that caused the US to enter the war.

Source: "U.S. Congress passes Selective Service Act" by History Channel, <>.

Soldier Draft in America

All men of a certain age were required to register for the draft. This was enacted by the Selective Service Act. Not all men were chosen to go to war, but no one knew when they would be called to fight.