Life in the Trenches: Trenches were extremely unsanitary, invested with countless amounts of rats, lice and decomposing bodies. Disease and sickness were very common inside of the trenches, due to the foul conditions inside the trenches. Trench Foot became a reoccurring disease with the soldiers; the wet and muddy setting began to rot the flesh of soldier’s toes. Many of the soldiers were surrounded by dead bodies. Many soldiers huddled together, making them prone to diseases and infections. Some of them include: lice, body lice, Trench Foot ; Trench Fever. Rats the size of cats, swarmed the trenches and fed on decomposing bodies of dead soldiers. Body lice would also itch the soldiers whilst inside the trenches. Latrines were created by digging holes into the ground nearby the trenches. When it would rain, it would flood the holes, bringing back up the human feces from down below. Soldiers writing back to their family would describe the trench conditions as filthy, wet and smelled sour.
War ; Medicine: The Red Cross contributed a lot in WWI. Much of the care for American servicemen came from the Red Cross. The ambulances took the wounded to dressing stations and then to casualty clearing stations. On the battlefield or in their trenches, officers and men often carried field dressings and painkillers. Shell Shock: This is a mental issue that affected the soldiers from the war. The “medicine” the doctors would use for them, is to talk to them and attempt to get them to remember their happier times in the past. Blood Transfusion: Hospitals would use blood transfusions and give blood to a soldier that has had a serious amount of blood loss. Nurses had to be careful the blood was not contaminated, and make sure the blood was safe to pump into the body.
Death in Sarajevo: June 28, 1914, Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austria throne, visited Sarajevo, Bosnian capital, with his wife. Archduke Ferdinand had been warned that his visit could provoke trouble, but he ignored this advice and visited Sarajevo regardless. A loud explosion occurred behind the archduke’s car, causing the Archduke and his wife to cancel their plans to meet the mayor. They were advised to take a train back to Austria, despite the Archduke’s orders to stay, but agreed for the safety of his wife. The driver was unaware of this new plan and was stopped by Gavrilo Philip, a member of the Black Hand. Gavrilo shot the Archduke and his wife, and they died on their way to the hospital. The assassination set off a chain of events, as Austria-Hungary immediately blamed the Serbian government for the attack. The assassination was the spark that ignited the beginning of World War One.
Women in War: Before the war, women’s roles consisted of cleaning, maintaining a yard, sewing clothing, and cooking for the family. Other roles included looking after the young, as well as continuing to care for the household. Women were very limited to what they could do. Although they had many talents they could offer to contribute outside of the house, women were seen as weak, and not required to fit any jobs occupied by males. By the late 1915’s, women finally had the chance to explore jobs that were populated only by men. Many saw the war as an opportunity to not only serve their countries, but to gain independence. With so many men at war, women were obligated to take over their jobs. Factories began to hire women to continue the jobs of men- all while paying the women half the minimum wage as the average man. Thousands of women worked long, dangerous hours filling shells with explosives. Many women also had jobs outside a factory and would take leadership in becoming doctors, lawyers, bankers and civil servants. Some women would also harvest grain, run a business and drive trucks. By taking over the roles of men, it inspired women to protest and advocate for women’s rights and equality.
Some women volunteered their time in Trenches of WWI. They would be nurses to take care of injured soldiers, drive ambulances and assist the Red Cross. Female nurses would have to treat about 250 soldiers each a day and they grew very tired. However, they had to be happy and joyful, because these soldiers saw them as a mother figure and a sense of comfort. Other women would knit socks for the troops, to help keep their feet warm. Many women had lost their lives serving to take care of the soldiers. All in all, women had an important role both on the home front and the WWI trenches.
Vimy Ridge: For the first time, all four Canadian divisions fought together. The initial attack began on March 20, 1917 and intensified through until April 8th. On April 9th, the Canadians captured the Ridge, at dawn. They were led by Sir Arthur William Currie. Sir Arthur Currie made sure his plans for battle were thorough. The Canadians dug tunnels (maze) to move troops and supplies safely and with no attention. Planes also flew over to see the positions of German guns. The tunnel allowed the Canadians to detonate German bombs and destroy German artillery. This gave the Canadians the advantage of the element of surprise against the Germans and forced them to surrender and stay in their trenches while Canadian soldiers took the ridge.
Treaty of Versailles: WWI officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. Government leaders met at Versailles, near Paris to sign the peace treaty. 32 countries had come together to hold a conference to make peace after the first World War. Canada was also included; however, they were demanded to be represented as a separate nation at the meetings and at the official signing of the treaty. Canada was given two seats of its own at the conference. The main decisions were made by the leaders of three countries. David Lloyd George (Britain) George Clemenceau (France) and Woodrow Wilson (United States). These three men were called “The Big Three” and dominated the conference. The defeated countries, including Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey, were not consulted about the treaty. The Big Three discussed what punishments would be held against Germany, for the treatment towards them in WWI. Woodrow Wilson suggested a “League of Nations”, could be established. The League of Nations were to achieve peace.
Use of Chemical Weapons:
The Germans were the first ones to introduce chlorine gas in the Battle of Ypres 1915. Yellow-lime clouds of gas swarmed the trenches. Chlorine is a diatomic gas, about two and a half times denser than air, pale green in color and with an odor which was described as a mix of pineapple and pepper. As the gas filled the trenches, the Canadians were the only ones to hold their position and create a successful counter attack. The deadly chlorine gas destroyed the respiratory organs of its victims, such as the nose, eyes, mouth and lungs. The chlorine reacts with water in these organs and would form hydrochloric acid; it would burn the soldiers from the interior. The Germans used mustard gas for the first-time during war in 1917.
At first, soldiers were not equipped with gas masks to protect themselves nor were they warned about the gas weapon from the Germans. Finally, a Canadian doctor identified the gas as chlorine and created an antidote. The doctor directed the soldiers to soak their handkerchiefs in urine and hold them over their faces. By doing this, it neutralized and minimized the effects of the chlorine gas.
Mustard gas caused severe burning of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It can be absorbed into the body through inhalation, ingestion or by meeting the skin or eyes. Victims may also experience irritation of the eyes, temporary blindness, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath and sinus pain. Having mustard gas inside of the body of a soldier would result in a slow, painful, and burning death.
Persecution of Enemy Aliens: When WWI broke out, there were about 500 000 German, Austrian, and Hungarian people living in Canada. These kinds of people were considered “enemy aliens”, in Canada because their original homeland was an “enemy country”. Many of these people had established their career as successful farmers, business people, and workers in Canada’s industries. Many people demanded these “enemy aliens”, to be fired from their jobs and locked up. They were deported to their home countries or arrested and placed in Internment Camps during the war. It was feared they would still harbor sympathies for their home countries. There were also rumours of spies and sabotage. There was a lot of discrimination against “enemy aliens”, throughout WWI.