Why did men continue to fight in WWI? The Great War was fought between 1914 until 1918. It took the lives of millions of men and it is said to have had horrible conditions, the question still remains. Why did men continue to fight in the Great War? Was it because of their discipline in the army? Did they fight because of their friends in the army? Or were the conditions in the trenches not as bad as people say they were? This essay will argue that, even though all of these reasons were very important, the main reason men continued to fight was army discipline and comradeship.
Army discipline was definitely an important factor for why men continued to fight. The army aimed to keep soldiers as disciplined as possible, therefore they made severe punishments for misbehaviour. For example, if soldiers refused to walk through “no mans land” the punishment would be to be shot by a firing squad, the firing squad would be your own battalion. This would be done to increase the discipline of the rest of the battalion. They knew that if they were to disobey orders their friends and comrades would shoot them.
However, around five million men served in the British army during the war; out of all these men, 3080 men were sentenced to death but only 364 were actually executed. This evidence suggests that perhaps army discipline was not the most important factor, however, 364 men might have scared most men enough to not disobey orders. The conditions of the trenches were said to be horrific and devastating, however the British army had very high standards of cleanliness and they were aware of what the soldiers needed to keep on fighting.
They aimed to keep morale as high as possible and therefore provided more than sufficient amount of food, very good medical care, and tried to generally make the soldiers’ living conditions better. Efforts were made to keep the trenches cleaner; for example, rats were a big issue at the beginning of the war but as the war progressed, they were quickly eliminated from the trenches. Lice were also a problem so they fumigated, washed and ironed soldiers’ uniforms when they came out of the line. Since soldiers got taken care of, this was definitely one of the reasons they continued to fight, or at least made ighting more bearable. The men who fought in the war would often make friends in their battalions. This would definitely keep the men strong and able to fight. The soldiers did not want to let their friends down, and they all wanted to fight for their fellow soldiers. None of them wanted to die, but it was worst to die alone without their friends. They fought to keep their friends and themselves alive, so they could bear the war in the company of people they cared for. Sometimes, soldiers became such good friends, they went mad if their friend died, or they would continue to see each other after the war.
Comradeship was a very important factor that helped them get through the war. You cannot generalize why men continued to fight. Different men fought for different things. But most men probably fought for various reasons. The fact that the conditions were not so bad probably helped men a lot, as well as being able to fight with their friends. But the fear of death by the hand of their friends was probably what drove most people to keep on fighting in the war. It probably also helped other soldiers encourage their friends to keep on fighting, and therefore army discipline and comradeship are the most important causes.
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