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What does the First World War mean to you?

Article about: My Grandfather having his ankle shot away at the Somme, disabled for life in an instant. He was relatively lucky though. Andy

  1. #1

    Default What does the First World War mean to you?

    Hi All.

    I am currently writing an essay for uni about the public perception of the First World War. I would be very interested to know other people's view on the War, such as how it was fought, views on the politicians etc. Are you a die hard believer in the Lions led by Donkeys school or are you a subscriber to more revisionist theories.

    I myself am slowly being brought around to the more revisionist school of thinking, however I still find it hard to shake my deep seated beliefs that the war was a slaughterhouse and grave misjudgments were made in the higher echelons.

    I am not posting this to cause an argument or necessarily stir up unhealthy controversy I would just like to have other peoples opinions on the War. Opinions from other countries would also be great as I am very conscious that it is easy to become very Anglocentric.

    Also, have no fear, I am not going to quote any of your comments in my essay. I am just asking out of my own interest.

    Many Thanks.

  2. #2

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    Recollections of the war, from my memory (hearing & processing information and opinions for a number of years although it seems to have faded from discussion anymore...) include.

    Incredible waste of life, untold millions...

    Trench warfare, muddy and generally unbearable...

    HUGE GUNS, the likes of which had never been seen before.

    Lots of shellshock, maybe to an extent never seen before.

    Gas, which had never been seen before, and the atrocity of chemical warfare, sometimes killing those who released the gas.

    The beginnings of areal warfare.

    Mostly the horror, the mud, the gas. Huge historic battles, the Somme, etc. (I'm actually quite ignorant on the actual battles of WWI, I was never that interested....)

    The strange politics of the war, relating to the Russian Revolution and further fighting.

    The emotional toll on Europe, and the US who managed to get in after three years of fighting.

    The Treaty of Versailles, which led up to WWII.

    A lot of stuff really, a very grim subject.

    They called it "The war to end all wars"...

  3. #3

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    A few mental images and thoughts when thinking of WWI:

    Hand to hand Trench warfare with savage looking mace-headed clubs, sawed off pump shotguns and horrendously huge bayonets. Brass knuckled knives with triangular blades. Dug mines filled with tons upon tons of explosives going off beneath men's feet-the flashes and detonations of which could be clearly seen as far away as in London itself. Oceans of barbed wire. Animals like mules and horses-killed and maimed by the thousands and rotting on the spot-the stench making vomit involuntary. Zeppelins over small towns at night dropping firebombs on houses of sleeping people. Wooden and cloth winged airplanes firing at each other with streams of machine guns bullets and burning tracers. Planes still flying but on fire and no parachutes. Soldiers in gilt decorated tunics on horseback carrying 10 foot glittering lances. Horrible moving fogs of gas-leaving silence behind them. Gas attacks of all different kinds Phosphine, Mustard, Chlorine, Phosgene and more-some eating their lungs out from the inside, others blinding them or burning the faces and flesh off the still living men. Gas in the cold winter on their uniform tunics not activating until they went inside their bunkers into the warm air and then gassing all inside. Trench mascot dogs and cats being terrible gassed and killed every instance of the alarm rattles going off. Gigantic cannons firing shells into cities from tens of miles away. Artillery exchanges of tens of thousands of high explosive 75 and 105mm shells at a time. Trenches so wet men waded up to their shoulders in water at times. Mud so loose entire trenches collapsing from the explosions and just plain bad weather on the men inside them. Paper mache and ceramic painted face masks to be worn by the men who's faces were shot off while looking over the tops of their trenches-worn so as to not sicken and horrify their loved ones and Themselves. Terrifying and huge noisy "tanks" lumbering over the battlefields like monstrous armor plated beasts coming to kill. Trench foot and rotting limbs from living in mud and water months at a time. Tin Lizzy ambulances with lanterns for headlights sometimes drawn by mules or horses. Wash pan helmets and spiked leather helmets. French and Belgian small towns completely obliterated-along with their populations and buildings and Trees. Little red poppies growing in Flanders Field. Hundreds of thousands of men buried on the spot for their comrades to get away from the stench of their rotting bodies in front of their trenches. The cry of "Over the Top, Men!" as hundreds of men climbed out of their trenches to attempt an attack on the enemy in Their trenches. Men defecating down the backs of their legs while attacking-not even aware of doing it, but thankful for their rolled or laced leggings holding their pants tight around their ankles. Crude airplanes flown by pilots who's faces you could See,flying overhead and dropping thousands of foot long steel spikes onto the heads of the men far below. Alvin York making turkey noises to make the Germans hiding look up so he could shoot and kill them. The Christmas Miracle. Great Ocean Liners sinking from torpedoes while filled with hundreds of women and children. Men marching off into the forests of Turkey,Russia, Austria, France, Belgium and countless others to never be seen or heard from again-vanishing forever. Dying in places they knew not the names of and couldn't spell. Families back home never knowing. Foch, Pershing, Petain, Clemenceau, Kitchener, Churchill, Bismark, Field Marshals, Eddie Rickenbacker and Billy Bishop, The Red Baron, Hindenburg, The King and The Kaiser with the withered arm, Czar Nikolas the 2nd, Krupp, Verdun-"They Shall Not Pass!", Paschendaele, Ypres, The Marne, U-Boats, Jutland, Heligoland and the terrible Silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th Month on November 11,1918. Going home and finding all gone-family,house,village-Nothing. Learning to live with body parts missing or no longer functional. 16 millions Dead and another 20 million suffering. Starting over again. The Spanish Flu.....Too much more...
    Last edited by Wagriff; 02-07-2013 at 08:47 AM.

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  4. #4

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    Mindless slaughter!........
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.

    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

  5. #5

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    Wasteful slaughter on a biblical scale,the loss of an entire generation of young men,senseless killing....Jake

  6. #6

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    Pain and suffering my whole village is bomb to pieces.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    Sign up here and probe around, you'll get a wide range of insight.

    Great War Forum

  8. #8

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    mud, barbed wire,bullets, shells and death

  9. #9

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    A period in History where time stood still and became... it seemed like an eternal Hell on Earth....Wagriff summed it up the Best
    It is not the size of a Collection in History that matters......Its the size of your Passion for it!! - Larry C

    One never knows what tree roots push to the surface of what laid buried before the tree was planted - Larry C

    “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” - Winston Churchill

  10. #10

    Default Re: What does the First World War mean to you?

    I see WWI as a forgotten moment in history. It was overshadowed by the greater conflict that happened afterwards. Twenty million people were killed during WWI, but sixty million were killed during WWII. One could argue that WWII happened because of WWI. WWI was only a stepping stone leading to something far worse.

    I have not put much study into WWI, although I have a few dusty books on my shelf, so I am not up to date on the current theories. I don't think there is anything wrong with revisionist theories. History needs to be updated and rewritten when new information comes to light. Thinking about this has sparked my interest, and I think I might dig into a few of my WWI books.


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