The Battle of Somme
From 1914 through 1918 the world was at war. Described as “The Great One”, World War 1 affected everyone; man, and woman, combatant and non-combatant. This was a war defined by the advent of new technology. World War 1 saw the implementation of the Machine-gun in 1914, the armored tank in 1916, and, with the advent of the airplane in 1903, the first fixed wing airplane modified for combat occurred in 1911. The perspective of combat had also changed. What had once been a stand in rank and fire at the enemy across vast fields had become a war fought in the trenches. The lone presence of an isolated field doctor had become that of an entire medical corps stationed behind the lines in vast field hospitals waiting to tend to the wounded. The very nature and scale of war had changed drastically. As a result, where you were, whose side you were on, and the role you fulfilled, the same battle had very different ramifications and opposing perspectives. This essay will discuss the contrasting views between Private Ernst Junger, a German shock troop in Storm of Steel to that of Vera Brittain, a British nurse in Testament of Youth, through one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of World War 1.
“World War I”, “The Great War”, as suggested by these references, was a confrontation on a global scale unlike any other war in history. For the first time technology had changed the face of armed conflict, the landscape of battle had transformed its mission from two forces firing upon each other across broad fields with muskets and cannons to a vast subterranean trench system that traversed hundreds of miles. Between the opposing forces lay barren waste lands covered by machine gun fire and directional barbed wire. These fields were aptly known as “no-man’s land”. The trench systems and adjacent wastelands covered the distance of what had once been empty fields between opposing forces to spanning the borders between multiple countries...
References: Brittain, V. (1933). Testament of Youth. (pp. 279-280). New York: Penguin Classics.
Duffy, M. (2009). Battles- the Battle of Somme. Battles- The Western Front, Retrieved from http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/somme.htm
Junger, E. (2004). Storm of Steel. (p. 78). Strand, London: Penguin Books.
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