World War One KILLING FIELDS: Death and Destruction on the Battlefields of The Great War


355 16 11MB

English Pages [98]

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Recommend Papers

World War One KILLING FIELDS: Death and Destruction on the Battlefields of The Great War

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

WORLD WAR ONE

KILLING FIELDS DEATH AND DESTRUCTION ON THE BATTLEFIELDS OF

THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918

Cotter Bass

This publication is offered with the understanding that neither the author nor the publisher is rendering legal, medical, accounting, or any other professional counseling. The information contained herein is not intended to replace instructions by trained professionals. For advice regarding legal, medical, accounting, or other issues, readers are advised to consult an attorney, physician, accountant, or other appropriate qualified professional. The author has exercised due diligence in determining the copyright status (if any) of the photographs and illustrations used in this book. Since most the photographs were either taken before 1923 (U.S. copyright laws), or the designated period of 70 years following the death of the photographer has expired (copyright provisions of many European nations), most photographs are in the public domain. The author and publisher disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information within this book. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher and author.

one-up-manship.blogspot.com/2012/04/great-war-photos.html

Cover photograph courtesy of behindtheirlines.blogspot.com/2016/04/ancient-alchemy.html

Copyright © 2020 by Cotter Bass

TABLE OF CONTENTS PROLOGUE • PRELUDE TO MADNESS • THE CALL TO ARMS • ANSWERING THE CALL • THE HOMEFRONT • KILLING FIELDS • THANK GOD IT‟S OVER! • GOING HOME • DEVASTATION • EPILOGUE

PROLOGUE World War One, also known as the First World War, World War I, WWI, and The Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from July 28, 1914 until November 11, 1918. Contemporaneously described as ‗The War to End All Wars,’ more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilized in one of the largest wars in history. More than nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the war (including the victims of a number of genocides), a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents‘ technological and industrial sophistication and the tactical stalemate caused by grueling trench warfare. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history and precipitated major political change, including the Revolutions of 1917–1923, in many of the nations involved. Unresolved rivalries at the end of the conflict contributed to the start of the Second World War twenty-one years later. The war attracted all the world's great economic powers assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) versus the Central Powers of Germany and AustriaHungary. Although Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, it did not join the Central Powers, as Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance. These alliances were reorganized and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan, and the United States joined the Allies, while the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers.

Courtesy of À LA VIE, À LA GUERRE (To Life, To War) https://alaviealaguerre.com

A FRENCH ASSAULT AT THE BATTLE OF ARTOIS, ca. SPRING OF 1915

The trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of AustriaHungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia and, as a result, entangled international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world. Russia was the first to order a partial mobilization of its armies on July 25. 1914, and when on July 28 AustriaHungary declared war on Serbia, Russia declared general mobilization on July 30. Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilize and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on August 1. Being outnumbered on the Eastern Front, Russia urged its Triple Entente ally France to open a second front in the west. Japan entered the war on the side of the Allies on August 23, 1914, seizing the opportunity of Germany's distraction with the European War to expand its sphere of influence in China and the Pacific.

More than forty years earlier in 1870, the Franco-Prussian War had ended the Second French Empire and France had ceded the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine to a unified Germany. Bitterness over that defeat and the determination to retake Alsace-Loraine made the acceptance of Russia's plea for help an easy choice; France began full mobilization on August 1, 1914 and, on August 3, Germany declared war on France. The border between France and Germany was heavily fortified on both sides. According to the Schlieffen Plan, Germany then invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving toward France from the north, leading the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany on August 4, 1914 due to Germany‘s violation of Belgian neutrality. After the German march on Paris was halted in the Battle of the Marne, what became known as the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition with a trench line that changed little until 1917. On the Eastern Front, the Russian army led a successful campaign against the Austro-Hungarians, but the Germans halted their invasion of East Prussia in the battles of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers, opening fronts in the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, and the Sinai Peninsula. In 1915, Italy joined the Allies and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers. Romania joined the Allies in 1916. After the sinking of seven U.S. merchant ships by German submarines and the revelation that the Germans were trying to encourage Mexico to make war on the United States, on April 6, 1917 the U.S. declared war on Germany. The Russian government collapsed in March 1917 with the February and October Revolutions. A further military defeat brought the Russians to terms with the Central Powers via the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, granting Germany a significant victory. After the stunning German Spring Offensive along the Western Front in the spring of 1918, the Allies rallied and drove back the Germans in the successful Hundred Days Offensive. On November 4, 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti, and Germany, which had its own trouble with revolutionaries , agreed to an armistice on November 11, 1918, ending the war with victory for the Allies.

By the end of the war or soon thereafter, the German Empire, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist. National borders were redrawn, with nine independent nations restored or created, and Germany's colonies parceled out among the victors. During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Big Four powers (Britain, France, the United States, and Italy) imposed their terms in a series of treaties. The League of Nations was formed with the aim of preventing repetition of such a devastating conflict. But this effort failed. Economic depression, renewed nationalism, weakened successor states, and feelings of humiliation (particularly in Germany) eventually contributed to the start of World War II. Factual data courtesy of Wikipedia.

PRELUDE TO MADNESS

Wikimedia Commons

The causes of the World War One remain controversial. The conflict began in the Balkans in late July 1914 and ended in November 1918, leaving about 9 million soldiers dead, 21 million wounded, and nearly 8 million missing or taken prisoner. Scholars seek to explain why two rival sets of powers - Germany and Austria-Hungary on one hand, and Russia, France, and Great Britain on the other - had come into conflict by 1914. They look at factors such as political, territorial, and economic conflicts, militarism, a complex web of alliances and alignments, imperialism, the growth of nationalism, and the power vacuum created by the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Other important long-term or structural factors that are often studied include unresolved territorial disputes, the perceived breakdown of the balance of power in Europe, convoluted and fragmented governance, arms races of the previous decades, and military planning.

Scholars often ask if the conflict could have been stopped, or whether it was out of control. The immediate causes lay in decisions made by statesmen and generals during the July Crisis of 1914, triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a Bosnian Serb who had been supported by a nationalist organization in Serbia. The crisis escalated as the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia came to involve Russia, Germany, France, and ultimately Belgium and Great Britain. This crisis followed a series of diplomatic clashes among the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, Britain, AustriaHungary and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decades before 1914 that had left tensions high. In turn, these public clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867. Consensus on the origins of the war remains elusive since historians disagree on key factors, and as a result place differing emphasis on a variety of factors. This is compounded by changing historical arguments over time, particularly the delayed availability of classified historical archives. The deepest distinction among historians is between those who focus on the actions of Germany and Austria-Hungary as key and those who focus on a wider group of actors. Secondary fault lines exist between those who believe that Germany deliberately planned a European war, those who believe that the war was ultimately unplanned but still caused principally by Germany and Austria-Hungary taking risks, and those who believe that either all or some of the other powers, namely Russia, France, Serbia, and Great Britain, played a more significant role in causing the war than has been traditionally suggested.

Wikipedia

THE NEW YORK HERALD, EUROPEAN EDITION JUNE 29, 1914

Consternation was created throughout the Courts of Europe when the news flashed across the wires that Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary, and the Duchess of Hohenberg, his wife, had been assassinated in the streets of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Their Imperial automobile was passing through an open space at the corner of the Appel Quay when a man stepped out of the crowd and fired point-blank with an automatic pistol at the Archduke and his consort. The first shot struck the Archduke in the head. The Duchess rose in the automobile to protect him and received the assassin‘s second shot in the breast, falling forward across her husband‘s knees. The Archduke made a feeble effort to clasp his wife in his arms, and they sank together to the floor of the automobile in a final embrace. They died almost simultaneously, without regaining consciousness. The assassin, a young Serbian student named Princip, was arrested.

Wikimedia Commons

GAVRILO PRINCIP

Gavrilo Princip was a Bosnian Serb and a member of Young Bosnia, a Yugoslavist organization seeking an end to AustroHungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Princip‘s assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife initiated a chain of events that would lead to the outbreak of the First World War. Princip and his accomplices were arrested and subsequently implicated the Serbian nationalist secret society known as the Black Hand, leading Austria-Hungary to issue a démarche to Serbia known as the July Ultimatum. During his trial Princip stated, "I am a Yugoslav nationalist, aiming for the unification of all Yugoslavs, and I do not care what form of state, but it must be freed from Austria." Princip died on April 28, 1918, age 24, from tuberculosis due to poor prison conditions that had earlier cost him a limb. Factual data courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia

THE EVENING HERALD, JUNE 29, 1914

H. Morgan via Wikimedia Commons

THE CAUSES OF WWI ILLUSTRATED AS A BONFIRE. THE PRIMARY CAUSES ARE THE LOGS WHILE THE DANGEROUS BALKANS SITUATION IS THE OILY RAG, THE FOUR BOTTOM ITEMS REPRESENT MATCHES WHICH AID THE FIRE, AND THE ASSASSINATION AT SARAJEVO IS THE MATCH WHICH LIGHTS THE FIRE, WITH NATIONALIST MOVEMENTS AND THE ARMS RACE CONTRIBUTING THEIR WINDS TO THE FIRE

Wikipedia

RIVAL MILITARY COALITIONS IN 1914: THE TRIPLE ENTENTE IS GREEN; TRIPLE ALLIANCE IS BROWN

Wikipedia

THE NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 2, 1914

Wikipedia

DAILY MAIL, AUGUST 5, 1914

THE CALL TO ARMS At the beginning of 1914 the British Army had a reported strength of 710,000 men including reserves, of which approximately 80,000 were regular troops ready for war. By the end of the World War One, almost 1 in 4 of the total male population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, more than five million men, had enlisted. Of these men, nearly 3 million joined as volunteers while almost 3 million were conscripts. AUGUST 1914: At the start of the World War One the British Army consisted of six infantry divisions, one cavalry division in the United Kingdom formed after the outbreak of war, four divisions overseas, and fourteen Territorial Force divisions. Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, considered the Territorial Force untrained and useless. He believed that the regular army must not be wasted in immediate battle, but instead used to help train a new army with 70 divisions that he foresaw would be needed to fight a war lasting many years. VOLUNTEER ARMY, 1914-1915: The British had about 5.5 million men of military age, with another 500,000 reaching 18 each year. The initial call for 100,000 volunteers was far exceeded; almost a half million men enlisted in two months. Around 250,000 underage boys also volunteered; either by lying about their age or giving false names to which recruiters often turned a blind eye. The available pool was diminished by roughly 1.5 million men who were kept in essential occupations. Nearly 40 percent of the volunteers were rejected for medical reasons. Kitchener insisted that the British must build a massive army for a long war. The obvious remedy was conscription, which was a hotly debated political issue. In the summer of 1915 every man between the ages of 18 and 41 was recorded under the National Registration Act.

CONSCRIPTION, 1916-1918: Since there were too few volunteers to fill the ranks, the Military Service Bill was introduced in January 1916, providing for the conscription of single men and childless widowers between the ages of 18 and 41. In May 1916 the bill was extended to married men and in April 1918 the upper age was raised to 50 (or to 56, if the need arose). Ireland, which was part of the United Kingdom at the time, was excluded from the scheme. All recruits after March 1, 1916 were conscripts. Factual data courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wikimedia Commons

AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR, MEN RUSHED TO ENLIST AS SOLDIERS AT RECRUITING OFFICES SUCH AS THIS ONE IN TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, ca. 1914

GREAT BRITAIN

GREAT BRITAIN

Posters courtesy of Library of Congress

CANADA

SCOTLAND

IRELAND

IRELAND

Posters courtesy of Library of Congress

BELGIUM

AUSTRALIA

FRANCE

AUSTRIA

Posters courtesy of Library of Congress

SERBIA

POLAND

UNITED STATES

UNITED STATES

Posters courtesy of Library of Congress

ITALY

RUSSIA

GERMANY

UNITED STATES

Posters courtesy of Library of Congress

ANSWERING THE CALL In the summer of 1914 war was romantic. War was colorful flags, spiked helmets, and flashing sabers. War was an adventure! Those called to arms would be heroes, defending their homelands and their way of life. The war would be over in days, surely before the leaves fell . . . . . “You will be home before the leaves fall from the trees.” (Kaiser Wilhelm II, August 13, 1914, addressing German troops leaving for the front)

Great Britain was honor-bound to defend Belgium when Germany invaded in August, 1914. Almost immediately, soldiers and sailors from the British Empire headed for Europe. By the end of August, more than 300,000 men had volunteered to serve. “You are ordered abroad as a soldier of the King to help our French comrades against the invasion of a common enemy. Do your duty bravely, fear God, Honour the King.” (Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, August 9, 1914)

The conflict spread rapidly from the Balkans to engulf all of Europe, which then mobilized its commonwealths and colonies around the world. Britain and France enlisted more than 3 million soldiers and laborers from Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and the Caribbean. The British Commonwealth nations of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa recruited troops to support the Allies. On April 6, 1917 the United States joined its allies - Britain, France, and Russia - to fight in World War One. Under the command of Major General John J. Pershing, more than 2 million U.S. soldiers fought on battlefields in France.

The Heritage of the Great War

TWO YOUNG SOLDIERS POSING OUTSIDE A TENT AT THEIR TRAINING CAMP. THEY BELONG TO THE KING'S OWN (ROYAL LANCASTER) REGIMENT.

The Heritage of the Great War

FRENCH CORPORAL PROUDLY POSING FOR THE CAMERA. NEWSPAPERS TOLD THE PUBLIC THAT THE BOY HAD JOINED THE ARMY WHEN HE WAS 14 YEARS OLD.

Courtesy of Medals of England

2ND LT. ROBERT SCOVELL RICHARDSON VOLUNTEERED EARLY IN THE WAR. IN NOVEMBER 1914 HE WAS COMMISSIONED FROM THE RANKS AS A 2/LT INTO THE SCOTTISH RIFLES.

Wikimedia Commons

ISAAC ROSENBERG IN UNIFORM. HE ENLISTED IN THE BRITISH ARMY IN 1915. ON APRIL 1, 1918, AND WAS KILLED IN ACTION IN FAMPOUX, FRANCE.

The Heritage of the Great War

GERMAN SOLDIERS POSING FOR A PHOTOGRAPH NEAR THE FRONT. THE MAN ON THE RIGHT IS GEFREITER ADOLPH HITLER. ALTHOUGH HE FEW FRIENDS, SOLDIERS WHO SERVED WITH HIM IN THE TRENCHES OF THE SOMME, AND LATER IN FLANDERS, HAVE TESTIFIED THAT ADOLF HITLER WAS FEARLESS. MOST OF HIS COMRADES DIED IN ACTION WHILE ADOLF ESCAPED DEATH AGAIN AND AGAIN.

Wikipedia

WILLIAM HENRY JOHNSON, COMMONLY KNOWN AS HENRY JOHNSON, WAS A UNITED STATES ARMY SOLDIER WHO PERFORMED HEROICALLY IN THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN UNIT OF THE U.S. ARMY TO ENGAGE IN COMBAT IN WORLD WAR ONE. HE WAS AWARDED THE MEDAL OF HONOR, PURPLE HEART, DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS, AND THE CROIX DE GUERRE.

Wikipedia

MANFRED ALBRECHT FREIHERR VON RICHTHOFEN, ALSO KNOWN AS THE ‗RED BARON,‘ WAS A FIGHTER PILOT WITH THE GERMAN AIR FORCE. HE IS CONSIDERED THE ACE-OFACES OF WORLD WAR ONE, BEING OFFICIALLY CREDITED WITH 80 AIR COMBAT VICTORIES. HE WAS SHOT DOWN AND KILLED NEAR VAUX-SUR-SOMME, FRANCE ON APRIL 21, 1918. HE REMAINS THE MOST WIDELY KNOWN FIGHTER PILOTS OF ALL TIME.

The Heritage of the Great War

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, A YOUNG REPORTER FOR THE STAR NEWSPAPER IN KANSAS CITY, WAS REPEATEDLY REJECTED FOR MILITARY SERVICE BECAUSE OF A DEFECTIVE EYE, BUT HE FINALLY MANAGED TO SIGN UP FOR AMBULANCE DUTY IN ITALY AS A MEMBER OF AN AMERICAN RED CROSS FIELD SERVICE UNIT. THREE MONTHS LATER HE WAS INJURED ON THE AUSTRO-ITALIAN FRONT.

Wikipedia

JOHN J. PERSHING. JOHN ‗BLACK JACK‘ PERSHING, GENERAL OF THE ARMIES, WAS A SENIOR UNITED STATES ARMY OFFICER. HIS MOST FAMOUS POST WAS SERVING AS COMMANDER OF THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE ON THE WESTERN FRONT IN WORLD WAR ONE, 1917–18. SOME OF HIS TACTICS HAVE BEEN CRITICIZED BOTH BY OTHER COMMANDERS IN WORLD WAR ONE AND BY MODERN HISTORIANS. HIS RELIANCE ON COSTLY FRONTAL ASSAULTS, LONG AFTER OTHER ALLIED ARMIES HAD ABANDONED SUCH TACTICS, HAS BEEN BLAMED FOR CAUSING UNNECESSARILY HIGH AMERICAN CASUALTIES.

Wikimedia Commons

PRIVATE (PTE) THOMAS KENNY, 2ND BATTALION, AUSTRALIAN ARMY. PTE KENNY WAS AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR HIS ACTIONS ON APRIL 9, 1917 AT HERMIES, FRANCE. HE RETURNED HOME FOLLOWING THE END OF THE WAR AND WAS DISCHARGED IN DECEMBER 1918.

“War is declared. I feel I must leave all, family, home, position. I clasp my wife and three little ones in my arms. The iron gate closes behind me and I almost break into tears – the happiest moments of my life are ended and I go toward the unknown.” (G.P. Capart, served in the Belgian Army; attached to the French Army in December 1914)

Library of Congress (Public Domain)

LIEUTENANT JOEL T. BOON, 6TH MARINES, MEDICAL OFFICER, AEF IDENTITY CARD. BOONE, A SURGEON FROM PENNSYLVANIA, SAW THE CARNAGE OF BELLEAU WOOD LIKE FEW OTHERS, DESCRIBING THE FIRST NIGHT OF THE BATTLE AS "A PERFECT INFERNO"

Wikipedia

MEN AT A RECRUITING STATION IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, ENLISTING FOR SERVICE

Library of Congress via Wikipedia

REGISTERING FOR MILITARY CONSCRIPTION, NEW YORK CITY, U.S.A., JUNE 5, 1917

The Heritage of the Great War

GERMAN SOLDIERS, WITH FLOWERS ON THEIR HELMETS, SAYING FAREWELL TO THEIR FAMILIES IN AUGUST 1914

Wikimedia Commons

A SOLDIER'S GOODBYE KISS

On April 6, 1917 the United States joined its allies - Britain, France, and Russia - to fight in World War One. Under the command of Major General John J. Pershing, more than 2 million U.S. soldiers fought on battlefields in France.

THE HOMEFRONT

Courtesy of Öesterreichische Nationalbibliothek – Austrian National Library

LOCAL INHABITANTS CULTIVATING A FIELD IN A DEVASTATED AREA IN GORZIA, ITALY, THE FORMER ISONZO BATTLEFIELDS

On the eve of the World War One there was serious domestic unrest in the UK, but much of the population rapidly rallied behind the government. Significant sacrifices were made in the name of defeating the Empire's enemies and many of those who could not fight contributed to philanthropic and humanitarian causes. Fearing food shortages and labor shortfalls, the government passed legislation, such as the Defence of the Realm Act 1914, to give it new powers. The war saw a move away from the idea of business as usual under the Prime Minister and toward a state of total war under the premiership of David Lloyd George; the first time this had been seen in Britain. The war also witnessed the first aerial bombardments of cities in Britain. Newspapers played an important role in maintaining popular support for the war. Large quantities of propaganda were produced by the government under the guidance of such journalists as Charles Masterman and newspaper owners such as Lord Beaverbrook. By adapting to the changing demographics of the workforce, war-related industries grew rapidly and production increased as concessions were quickly made to trade unions. The war is also credited by some with drawing women into mainstream employment for the first time. Debates continue about the impact the war had on women's emancipation, given that a

large number of women were granted the vote in 1918 for the first time. The experience of individual women during the war varied; much depended on locality, age, marital status and occupation. The civilian death rate rose due to food shortages and Spanish Flu, which hit the country in 1918, and the Empire reached its zenith at the conclusion of peace negotiations. However, the war heightened not only imperial loyalties but also individual national identities in the Dominions (Canada, Australia, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and South Africa) and India. Sometime after 1916, Irish nationalists moved from collaboration with London to demands for immediate independence (Easter Rising), a move given impetus by the Conscription Crisis of 1918. Military historians continue to debate matters of tactics and strategy. However, in terms of memory of the war, historian Adrian Gregory argues that, "The verdict of popular culture is more or less unanimous. The First World War was stupid, tragic and futile. The stupidity of the war has been a theme of growing strength since the 1920‘s. From Robert Graves through his works entitled 'Oh! What a Lovely War' to 'Blackadder Goes Forth,' the criminal idiocy of the British High Command has become an article of faith." Factual data courtesy of Wikipedia.

A BRITISH WAR LOAN POSTER, ca. 1915.

U. S. BUY WAR SAVING STAMPS POSTER, ca. 1918. Posters courtesy of Library of Congress

Wikimedia Commons

3 WOMEN HARNESSED TO A PLOW NEAR OISE, FRANCE, ca. 1917

Wikimedia Commons

A YOUNG FARM WORKER NEAR YEOVIL, ENGLAND

Library of Congress

LEARNING OF THE GERMAN RETREAT, AN ELDERLY WOMAN RETURNS TO FIND HER HOME IN THE SOMME REGION OF FRANCE A HEAP OF RUINS, ca. 1917

BELGIUM WAR BONDS AND FUNDS POSTER BY CHARLES BUCHEL, ca. 1915.

POSTER URGING WOMEN TO JOIN THE BRITISH WAR EFFORT, ca. 1914. Posters courtesy of Library of Congress

Wikimedia Commons

GIRLS AT PLAY IN AN ENGLISH VILLAGE DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR

The Heritage of the Great War

BRITISH WOMEN TENDING WAR GRAVES IN FRANCE

Library of Congress, World Digital Library

MOTHER AND CHILD WEARING GAS MASKS

This photograph shows a mother and child wearing gas masks while cooking on an open fire. Technical innovations during World War One, such as long-range artillery or air strikes conducted by heavy bombers, meant that it was not just the front, but also civilian areas that became military targets. Chemical weapons, first used in Poland in 1915 by the German army (in contravention of the Hague Agreement of 1907), were another feature of the war, eventually becoming a symbol of the dehumanization of the conflict. By 1918 gas warfare had become sophisticated, using a range of gas types delivered by shells, mortars, bombs, and grenades. Being delivered mostly by artillery meant there was a risk of civilians being swept up in the attack.

Wikimedia Commons

A GROUP OF CHILDREN LOOK ON AS A U.S. ARMY SOLDIER HANGS A LIBERTY BOND POSTER DURING THE OCCUPATION OF THE RHINELAND AFTER THE GREAT WAR

Wikimedia Commons

WAR GARDENERS NEAR WASHINGTON, D.C. ca. 1917. HARRIS & EWING COLLECTION GLASS NEGATIVE

KILLING FIELDS

Courtesy of Narodna Biblioteka Srbije via Wikipedia

A FATHER, AN OFFICER OF THE SERBIAN ARMY, MOURNS HIS SON, A FALLEN SOLDIER

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War One exceeded 41 million. There were more than 18 million deaths and 23 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The total number of deaths includes from 9 to 11 million military personnel and 5 to 6 million civilians. The Allies lost about 6 million military personnel while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. At least 2 million died from disease and 6 million went missing and presumed dead. Approximately two-thirds of military deaths in World War One occurred during battle, unlike 19th century conflicts when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Disease, including the 1918 flu pandemic and deaths while held as prisoners of war, caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents in World War One.

Library of Congress

DEAD ROMANIAN SOLDIERS NEAR KRONSTADT (NOW STALIN), ROMANIA, ca. 1916

Vikond65 via LiveJournal (http://www.wereldoorlog1418.nl.battleverdun)

GERMAN SOLDIER/PHOTOGRAPHER WALTER KLEINFELDT CAPTURED A BATTLEFIELD STREWN WITH BODIES NEAR THE SOMME, FRANCE

Brett Butterworth via National Library of Scotland

TWO ENGLISH SOLDIERS KILLED IN A GAS ATTACK IN KEMMELBERG, BELGIUM, ca. 1918

Brett Butterworth via National Library of Scotland

TWO ENEMY SOLDIERS MOVE THROUGH A FRENCH TRENCH COLLECTING USEFUL ITEMS AT CHEMIN DES DAMES, FRANCE, ca. 1918

Library of Congress

THE BODIES OF ENEMY SOLDIERS AT THE BOTTOM OF A DITCH IN THE SOMME DEPARTMENT, FRANCE, ca. SEPTEMBER 1916

U.S. National Archives

MACHINE-GUN NEST AND DEAD GUNNER AT VILLERS DEVY DUN SASSEY, FRANCE, NOVEMBER 4, 1918, ONE WEEK BEFORE THE END OF THE WAR

Courtesy of The Heritage of the Great War

FRENCH SOLDIERS, SOME WOUNDED, SOME DEAD, AFTER TAKING COURCELLES, IN THE DEPARTMENT OF OISE, FRANCE, ca. JUNE 1918

Library of Congress

HIGHLANDERS ON THE WESTERN FRONT, KILLED AND STRIPPED OF THEIR SOCKS AND BOOTS, ca. 1916

Courtesy of The Anzac Portal (© Commonwealth of Australia)

DEAD ENEMY SOLDIERS CAPTURED BY THE AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE NEAR PERONNE, FRANCE, ca. 1918

Wikipedia

CIVILIANS KILLED DURING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE. IMAGE FROM A STORY BY HENRY MORGENTHAU, SR., PUBLISHED IN 1918

Courtesy of The Heritage of the Great War

THE STENCH OF DEAD BODIES, HUMAN WASTE AND VERMIN WAS UNBEARABLE: SOLDIERS DESCRIBED IT AS „HELL‟

Courtesy of the German Federal Archive via Wikipedia Commons

FALLEN ENEMY SOLDIER IN FRANCE, ca. 1917

Wikimedia Commons

DEAD ENEMY SOLDIER IN A CAPTURED TRENCH IS VIVIDLY PORTRAYED IN THE FRONT WITH „NO MAN'S LAND‟ IN THE DISTANCE

Wikimedia Commons

AN ENEMY KILLED BY CANADIAN CALVARY A FEW MOMENTS BEFORE THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN

Photo by John Warwick - Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland

A DISTURBING PHOTOGRAPH OF A DESTROYED TRENCH. IN THE FOREGROUND THE LIMP BODIES OF DEAD ENEMY SOLDIERS LIE AMIDST THE RUBBLE. ALTHOUGH IT IS DIFFICULT TO DISTINGUISH THE BODIES FROM THE CHAOS AROUND THEM, FOUR BODIES ARE CLEARLY VISIBLE. ONE MAN, WEARING A HELMET, HAS BEEN PUSHED FORWARD BY THE BLAST. THE SCENE IS A MAELSTROM OF MUD, SPLINTERED WOOD AND DEAD BODIES. PHOTO TAKEN DECEMBER 31, 1916

Library of Congress

A DEAD GERMAN ARTILLERYMAN AND SEVERAL DRAFT HORSES ON THE WESTERN FRONT, ca. 1918 (an estimated 8 million horses died during the war)

Vikond65 courtesy of LiveJournal

DEAD ENEMY SOLDIERS IN A DESTROYED DUGOUT

Courtesy of The Heritage of the Great War

THE CORPSE OF A YOUNG ENEMY SOLDIER, AN UNSCREWED HAND-GRENADE RESTING IN HIS HAND, READY TO BE THROWN

Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland

THREE DEAD ENEMY SOLDIERS OUTSIDE THEIR PILL BOX NEAR ZONNEBEKE, BELGIUM

Library of Congress

BATTLEFIELD NEAR MAKOW, POLAND, ca. 1916

Photo by H.D. Girdwood - Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen‘s Printer for Scotland (British Library)

DEAD AND INJURED BRITISH SOLDIERS LYING IN A FIELD AT THE SOMME, FRANCE AFTER MAKING A CHARGE, ca. SEPTEMBER 1915

Photo by Fortepan via Wikipedia Commons

DEAD SOLDIERS AND EQUIPMENT STREWN ON A BATTLEFIELD, ca. 1915

U.S. National Archives

BODIES OF ALLIED SOLDIERS STREWN ABOUT A BOMBED LANDSCAPE IN NO MAN'S LAND AT COURCELETTE, THE SOMME DEPARTMENT, FRANCE, ca. 1916

Krypta vojakov (Slovakia) via The Heritage of the Great War

THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD, FLANDERS, BELGIUM, MOST LIKELY DURING THE SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES, APRIL 21 - MAY 25, 1915

Wikimedia Commons

AFTERMATH OF THE FIGHTING IN THE FRENCH TOWN OF CARENCY DURING THE SECOND BATTLE OF ARTOIS, ca. MAY 1915

Courtesy of The Heritage of the Great War

GERMAN SOLDIER DIVES FOR COVER AS A SHELL EXPLODES ON THE WESTERN FRONT, ca. 1917 THESE POIGNANT PHOTOGRAPHS MAY CAPTURE THAT SPLIT SECOND INTERVAL BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH, PERPETUITY AND ETERNITY; THE VERY INSTANT OF DEATH.

U.S. National Archives via Wikimedia Commons

GERMANS WAIT FOR FRENCH SOLDIERS WHO COME TO THEM IN NEAT ROWS

From Visions of History by Léon Poirier (Cinémathéque de Toulouse) via Quora

GOING „OVER THE TOP‟ GOING „OVER THE TOP‟ AND CHARGING A MACHINE GUN POSITION WAS CONSIDERED TO BE A DEATH SENTENCE, WHILE RETREATING OR TRYING TO ESCAPE THE CARNAGE WAS LIABLE TO GET YOU SHOT BY YOUR OWN SIDE. FEW CONFLICTS IN HISTORY WERE WORSE FOR A REGULAR SOLDIER THAN THE BATTLE OF VERDUN, ca. 1916, WHICH EXEMPLIFIED THIS SUICIDAL APPROACH TO TRENCH WARFARE.

The popular image of a trench assault is a wave of soldiers, bayonets fixed, going ‗over the top‘ and marching in a line across ‗no man's land‘ into a hail of enemy fire - the standard method of attack early in the war. But it was rarely successful. More common was an assault at night from an advanced post in no man's land, having cut the barbed wire beforehand. In 1915, the German forces developed infiltration tactics where small groups of highly trained and well-equipped troops would attack vulnerable points and bypass strong points, driving deep into the rear areas.

Photo by John W. Brooke , Imperial War Museums via Wikimedia Commons

ENEMY DEAD SCATTERED IN THE WRECK OF A MACHINE GUN POST NEAR GUILLEMONT, FRANCE, ca. 1916

Wikimedia Commons

DEAD SOLDIERS OUTSIDE A DUGOUT, ca. 1917

Courtesy of Rare Historical Photos (https://rarehistoricalphotos.com)

A GERMAN PILOT LIES DEAD IN HIS CRASHED AIRPLANE IN FRANCE, ca. 1918

Death as the result of trench warfare was not the only way to sacrifice one‘s life in The Great War. Here are a few other examples . . . . .

Courtesy of The Heritage of the Great War

A BELGIAN, TRYING TO FLEE OVER THE BORDER TO HOLLAND, WAS CAUGHT IN AN ELECTRIC BARBED WIRE FENCE AND KILLED BY THE HIGH VOLTAGE

Wikimedia Commons

A SPY SHOT IN VERZY, FRANCE (NEAR REIMS)

Following the battle of The Frontiers in August 1914, which ended in French defeat, French army soldiers were forced to flee under particularly harsh conditions. Those executed were both civilians and soldiers, unable to explain what they were doing there.

Brett Butterworth via National Library of Scotland

AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN TROOPS EXECUTING SERBIAN CIVILIANS, ca. 1915

Courtesy of The Heritage of the Great War

A SOLDIER OF THE 99TH FRENCH INFANTRY, KILLED BY MUSTARD GAS, ca. 1918. THE GAS NOT ONLY BURNED HIS LUNGS AND SUFFOCATED HIM, BUT ALSO TORE HIS SKIN APART

San Diego Air and Space Museum via Flickr Commons

SKULLS AND BONES PILED IN A FIELD. FROM A COLLECTION BY JOHN MCGREW, A MEMBER OF THE PHOTOGRAPHIC SECTION OF THE U.S. ARMY FIFTH CORPS AIR SERVICE, PART OF THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES

Wikimedia Commons

DOG EATING REMAINS OF DEAD SOLDIER, ca. 1917

Brett Butterworth via National Library of Scotland

DEAD RUSSIAN SOLDIER BEING BURIED BY CIVILIANS WHERE HE FELL. RUSSIA LOST TWO MILLION MEN IN COMBAT DURING WORLD WAR I

Photo by Hermann Rex via Wikipedia

FALLEN BRITISH AND AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS IN A MASS GRAVE DUG BY GERMAN SOLDIERS NEAR FROMELLES OR VIMY, FRANCE, ca. 1916 or 1917

Courtesy of The Heritage of the Great War

ARMY CHAPLAIN ADMINISTRATING LAST RITES

Army chaplains cared for the souls of the men in their battalion. Chaplains would minister to the spiritual needs of the soldiers and to the burial of the dead. They would also undertake practical tasks, such as writing letters for wounded soldiers and writing letters to the next of kin of those who had been killed.

THANK GOD IT‟S OVER!

Courtesy of TODAY IN OTTAWA‘S HISTORY

THE OTTAWA CITIZEN FRONT PAGE, NOVEMBER 11, 1918

Official Radio from Paris – 6:01 A.M., Nov. 11, 1918. Marshal Foch to the Commander-in-Chief: 1. Hostilities will be stopped on the entire front Beginning at 11 o’clock, November 11th (French Hour), 2. The Allied troops will not go beyond the line Reached at that hour on that date until further Orders. [signed] MARSHAL FOCH 5:45 A.M.

On November 11, 1918, all fighting ceased on the Western Front following four years and more than 41 million casualties. On that date at 5:00 am, an armistice with Germany was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiègne, France. At 11 am, "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month," a ceasefire came into effect. During the six hours between the signing of the armistice and its taking effect, opposing armies on the Western Front began to withdraw from their positions, but fighting continued along many areas of the front as commanders wanted to capture territory before the war ended.

Wikipedia

NEW YORK TIMES FRONT PAGE, NOVEMBER 11, 1918

The occupation of the Rhineland took place following the Armistice. The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British, and French forces. A formal state of war between the two sides persisted for another seven months until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919.

Wikimedia Commons

CELEBRATING THE END OF THE GREAT WAR IN THE STREETS OF PARIS, NOVEMBER 11, 1918

Following the last major battle of World War One, the Battle of Amiens (which was an allies' victory), the Germans retreated and surrendered shortly thereafter on November 11, 1918. Six new countries were formed as a result of World War One: Poland, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Estonia.

National Library NZ via Wikipedia

TANKS ON PARADE IN LONDON FOLLOWING THE END OF WORLD WAR I

Library and Archives Canada via Wikipedia

CANADIAN SOLDIERS CELEBRATING

Library of Congress

JUBILANT CROWDS IN NEW YORK CELEBRATING THE ALLIED FORCES VICTORY

Wikipedia

SOLDIERS CHEERING WITH HELMETS WAVING AT THE NEWS THAT A TRUCE WAS CONCLUDED

Courtesy of Kodam City (www. kodamcity.egloos.com)

VICTORY PARADE, SPRING OF 1919

Courtesy of Kodam City (www. kodamcity.egloos.com)

A MARINE AND A WOMAN KISSING WHILE CELEBRATING THE END OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR IN 1919

GOING HOME

Wikimedia Commons

SOLDIERS RETURNING FROM WORLD WAR ONE, PARADING IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S.A., ca. OCTOBER 1919

World War One was one of the most terrifying events in the history of mankind. The war was so incredibly destructive due to the life-altering physical and mental effects for combatants and their families. Soldiers were considered heroes when they arrived home. Upon their return, numerous street parties were held to thank them for their gallant service. Although the war ended in 1918, most soldiers would not arrive home until 1919. As they endured the wait for a seat on a ship home, the Allies established training centers and encouraged men to pursue trades and further education.

Courtesy of U.S. Army/National Archives

A WOUNDED U.S. SOLDIER RECEIVING FIRST-AID IN VARENES-EN-ARGONE, FRANCE, ca. 1918

Library of Congress

AMERICAN RED CROSS NURSE HELPS A SOLDIER DRINK FROM A CUP AT MONTMIRAIL, FRANCE, ca. MAY 1918

U.S. National Archives

SHATTERED CHURCH IN THE RUINS OF NEUVILLY, FRANCE PROVIDES SHELTER FOR THE WOUNDED, ca. 1918

Thousands of casualties resulted from World War One, creating physical wounds, illness, and emotional trauma. New weapons such as the machine gun delivered unprecedented damage to a soldier‘s body. Doctors on both sides of the conflict labored to save patients‘ lives and limit the harm to their bodies. New treatments and medical technologies were developed which significantly reduced the number of deaths. Casualties had to be removed from the fields of battle to locations where doctors and nurses could treat them. Wounded soldiers were collected by stretcher-bearers and moved to a location for treatment specific to their injury and the severity of their wounds.

Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen‘s Printer for Scotland

THE DOME HOSPITAL IN BRIGHTON, ENGLAND PROVIDED 689 BEDS AND EVERY MODERN CONVENIENCE, ca. 1915

Wikipedia

BRITISH TROOPS BLINDED BY POISON GAS DURING THE BATTLE OF ESTAIRES, FRANCE, ca. 1918

The most widely reported and the most effective chemical agent of World War One was sulfur mustard, known as ‗mustard gas,‘ a volatile oily liquid. It was introduced as a vesicant by Germany in July 1917 prior to the Third Battle of Ypres. The Germans marked their shells yellow for mustard gas and green for chlorine and phosgene; hence they called the new gas Yellow Cross. The skin of mustard gas victims blistered, their eyes became very sore, and they began to vomit. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping the mucous membrane, an extremely painful condition. Fatally injured victims often took four or five weeks to die from mustard gas exposure.

Wikipedia

A CANADIAN SOLDIER WITH MUSTARD GAS BURNS, ca. 1917–1918

Courtesy of Gabriele Possaner Institut (https://www.gabrielepossanner.eu)

A SOLDIER WITH AN ELBOW INJURY BEING TREATED FOR HIS CONDITION

The aim of medical care for the wounded and sick soldiers near the front was to make them well enough to return to battle as soon as possible. Women nurses and medical orderlies represented the ideal of care during World War One. They were an important emotional bridge from the battlefield to home.

Courtesy of Dermasthetic (https://dermasthetic.com)

MANY PLASTIC SURGERY TECHNIQUES WERE DEVELOPED OR IMPROVED WORLD WAR ONE AS A RESULT OF SO MANY INJURIES

Courtesy of Rare Historical Photos (https://rarehistoricalphotos.com

FRENCH SOLDIER WHOSE FACE WAS MUTILATED BEING FITTED WITH A MASK MADE AT AN AMERICAN RED CROSS FACILITY, ca. 1918

Courtesy of Listverse (http://listverse.com)

THOMAS, A COMMONWEALTH SOLDIER, WAS GRAVELY WOUNDED ON NOVEMBER 6, 1918, JUST A SHORT TIME BEFORE ARMISTICE NEGOTIATIONS STARTED

Many men wounded on and after the eleventh hour on November 11, 1918 succumbed to their injuries. Many more endured years of pain and suffering due to physical wounds that would not heal properly or would never heal at all. One of the most horrifying, a commonwealth soldier named Thomas, was gravely wounded just before negotiations started and was still alive and conscious when the Armistice took effect. Whatever hit him tore away the lower parts of his face; nose, mouth, and jaw. After years of surgical reconstruction, in August 1922 Thomas had finally acquired something approaching a normal looking face.

Wikipedia

CAPTAIN NOEL CHAVASSE, THE MOST DECORATED SOLDIER OF WORLD WAR ONE

Captain Noel Chavasse is one of only three men to have been awarded the Victoria Cross twice, and the only soldier or officer to have been awarded it twice during World War One. Captain Chavasse accomplished this rare tribute without firing a shot in anger, the award being for his actions as a Regimental Medical Officer, or doctor.

Wikimedia Commons

BATTLEFIELD GRAVE OF AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER

Wikimedia Commons

WORLD WAR ONE CEMETERY, PHOTOGRAPH BY MODRIS PUTNS

For the 41 million military personnel and civilians who perished in World War One, there was no ‗going home‘ in the traditional sense. Rather, home became one of the more than 4,000 military cemeteries and memorials around the world.

Wikipedia

FRENCH MILITARY CEMETERY AT THE DOUAUMONT OSSUARY CONTAINING THE REMAINS OF MORE THAN 130,000 UNKNOWN SOLDIERS

White crosses mark 16,142 graves at the Douaumont Cemetery, the largest military cemetery in France. On each plaque below the personal details of each soldier is inscribed ―MORT POUR LA FRANCE‖ or ―One Who Died For France.‖ In the background can be seen the Ossuary which contains the remains of more than 130,000 unidentified combatants.

Photograph by Tinelot Wittermans via Wikipedia Commons

WAR GRAVES WITH POPPY AT THE HIGH WOOD CEMETERY IN THE SOMME, FRANCE

Adieu, mes Amis . . . .

DEVASTATION

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

THE TOWN SQUARE IN ARRAS, FRANCE, ca. 1919

World War One cut a swath of destruction across Europe, leaving centuries-old towns and hallowed buildings in ruins. Rebuilding took generations. Besides Europe, the battles of The Great War were fought around the globe, from the fields of Flanders and France to the Russian plains and deserts of the Middle East. Beginning in 1914, these battles devastated the landscape and elevated to prominence places that had previously been unknown. As a result, names such as Gallipoli, the Somme, Verdun, Ypres, and Meuse-Argonne became eternally entwined with images of heroism, sacrifice, bloodshed, and devastation. The aftermath of The Great War saw drastic political, cultural, economic, and social change across Europe, Asia, Africa, and even in areas outside those that were directly involved. Four empires collapsed due to World War One, old countries were abolished, new ones were formed, boundaries were redrawn, and international organizations were created. Even before the Armistice on November 11, 1918, some of the local population was beginning to return from their places of refuge. Every building was shattered and in ruins. Houses, shops, municipal buildings, schools, cathedrals, and

churches were gone. It would be a seemingly insurmountable task to rebuild the devastated landscape to its original state. With hundreds of men, women, and children returning to their homelands, there arose a need to accommodate them in new housing, to provide schools, medical facilities, shops, workplaces, and to rebuild the shattered infrastructure.

Courtesy of FORUM Pages 14-18 (https://forum.pages14-18.com)

REMAINS OF THE PASSCHENDAELE, BELGIUM BATTLEFIELD

Many people returning to their destroyed homes were seeking employment as builders and construction workers. Well-to-do families tended to stay away until much of the clearing had been completed. Some wealthy land-owners sold their property, deciding to not be part of reconstruction. By the year 1920 the number of people living in Ypres, France was about 6,000. The population grew significantly during the 1920‘s and there were already 15,000 people living in the city by 1930. However, more than half of those inhabitants were individuals who had moved to Ypres after the war and had not been born and raised in the city before 1914. Many of the families who had lived in and around Ypres for generations decided to not return.

Courtesy of The Heritage of the Great War

ENTIRE CITIES AND VILLAGES ALONG THE WESTERN FRONT LIE IN HEAPS OF RUINS

Library of Congress

PANORAMIC VIEW OF A TOTALLY DESTROYED TOWN; CRUDE SIGN READS, "THIS WAS FORGES," POSSIBLY FORGES-SUR-MEUSE, FRANCE

Library of Congress

RUINS OF GOMMECOURT CHATEAU, FRANCE

Wikimedia Commons

A GIGANTIC SHELL CRATER IN YPRES, BELGIUM, ca. 1917

Library of Congress

A BRIDGE THROUGH THE MARSHES IN FLANDERS, BELGIUM, ca. 1918

Wikimedia Commons

AERIAL VIEWS OF PASSCHENDAELE, BELGIUM BEFORE AND AFTER THE THIRD BATTLE OF YPRES, ca. 1917

Library of Congress

RUINS IN THE SOMME DEPARTMENT, FRANCE

Library of Congress

DESTRUCTION TO LE COLLÈGE IN YPRES, BELGIUM

Library of Congress

RUINS AT PAS DE CALAIS, FRANCE

Imperial War Museum via Wikimedia Commons

RUINS IN THE TOWN OF ASIAGO, ITALY, ca 1918

Wikipedia

RUINS AFTER THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES, BELGIUM

Library of Congress

RUINS OF LENS, THE DEVASTATED COAL MINING REGION OF NORTHERN FRANCE

EPILOGUE

Courtesy of HistoryHit (https://www.historyhit.com)

By the end of World War One or soon after, the German Empire, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist. National borders were redrawn, with nine independent nations restored or created, and Germany‘s colonies parceled out among the victors. Numerous nations regained their former independence and new ones were created. Four dynasties, together with their ancillary aristocracies, fell as a result of the war; the Romanovs, the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburgs, and the Ottomans. Belgium, Serbia, and France were badly damaged. Germany and Russia were similarly affected. During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Big Four powers (Britain, France, the United States, and Italy) imposed their terms in a series of treaties. The League of Nations was formed with the aim of preventing any repetition of such horrendous conflict. But this effort failed. Economic depression, renewed nationalism weakened successor states, and feelings of humiliation (particularly in Germany) eventually contributed to the start of World War II.

“The War was an unprecedented triumph for natural science. [Francis] Bacon had promised that knowledge would be power, and power it was: power to destroy the bodies and souls of men more rapidly than had ever been done by human agency before. This triumph paved the way to other triumphs: improvements in transport, in sanitation, in surgery, medicine, and psychiatry, commerce and industry, and, above all, in preparations for the next war.” (R. G. Collingwood, writing in 1939)

Courtesy of Public Domain Clip Art Photos and Images (https://publicdomainclip-art.blogspot.com)

POSTER DEPICTING LONE SOLDIER STANDING AT A GRAVE IN A FIELD OF POPPIES

The first tentative efforts to comprehend the meaning and consequences of modern warfare began during the initial phases of World War One. This process continued throughout and after the end of hostilities and is still underway more than a century later. The Great War affected soldiers physically through severe injuries and often left them traumatized with ‗shell shock‘ the result of extreme stress while engaged in combat. Shell shock is an emotional trauma, a reaction to the many horrors that soldiers heard and witnessed while in the trenches. This

mental disorder often resulted from hearing the battlefield screams of others in agony coupled with the stark and painful reality when contemplating their own impending death. While many soldiers lapsed into total oblivion, some recovered from shell shock but continued to have nightmares about their combat experiences. A sense of this experience is revealed in a verse from the prophetic poem entitled Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918): Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind. Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound‘ring like a man in fire or lime... Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. If in some smothering dreams you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil‘s sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

Before the ink had dried on the Armistice of 1918, many politicians, military experts, journalists, illuminati, and soothsayers openly and unabashedly declared World War One to be ‗The War to End All Wars.‘ While seemingly prophetic at that time, this bold pronouncement proved to be painfully flawed. A mere 21 years later, Adolph Hitler and the German military machine attacked Poland resulting in the birth of World War II. Throughout the balance of the 20th century and beyond, armed conflicts, whether politically defined as police actions or all-out war, have continued to plague mankind.

Library of Congress

What have we learned from this deadly, devastating experiment, often referred to as The Great War? When examining the past through the blurred periscope of the present, the lessons are logical and unmistakable: wise men from all nations must stand tall and collectively proclaim that warlike overtures, belligerence, or armed conflict cannot and will not be tolerated. Only then, and until then, will deliberate acts of hostility, aggression, and warfare become intolerable for mankind.

Courtesy of Wykop (https://www.wykop.pl)

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail. Proverbs 22:8