There are many reasons for the casualties on the western front during World War I, such as the length of the war, the weapons involved, strategy and tactics, and the conditions. The total number of casualties in World War I, both military and civilian, was about 37 million: 16 million deaths and 21 million wounded.
Throughout this essay, I will explain how each of these things affected the number of people who died on the Western Front. The first reason was weaponry.It was a major contribution to the number of deaths and probably what caused the most deaths because they were all very destructive one of them being the rifle, which was popularly used by the British. The rifle could fire fifteen rounds per minute and could shoot a person 1400 meters away. The machine gun was another popular gun to use from the safety of the trenches, as it needed 4-6 men to work on them and it had the firepower of 100 guns. But the war had more than just guns.
Along the trenches were barbed wires to protect the soldiers. But sometimes the soldiers would get tangled up in them and bleed to death.The same happened to the enemies. Trench warfare led to the development of the concrete pillbox, a hardened blockhouse that could be used to deliver machine gun fire.
They could be placed across a battlefield with interlocking fields of fire. The German army was the first to use chlorine gas at the battle of Ypres in 1915. Chlorine gas causes a burning sensation in the throat and chest pains. But if the wind is in the wrong direction it could end up killing your own troops rather than the enemy. Mustard gas was the most deadly weapon used. It was fired into the trenches in shells. It is colorless and takes 12 hours to take effect.
Effects include: blistering skin, vomiting, sore eyes, internal and external bleeding. Death can take up to 5 weeks. Trench warfare was primarily a defensive tactic, placing soldiers low in the trench for protection, installing barbed wire in front of them in more modern times, and then allowing the soldiers to shoot at the enemy. Trench warfare has been used militarily since Roman times, although it came into widespread use in World War I. Strategies and tactics were another reason for the deaths. Plans were all based on the 19th century idea that to be successful, an army had to strike uickly and decisively with a huge numbers of soldiers. The side that loses the most soldiers in the battle wins.
Which led to every one aiming to kill as many as they could in any way they could. A good example for the reason of high causalities was the Schlieffen Plan. The Chief of the German General Staff, Alfred von Schlieffen, devised it in secrecy. By 1905 he had calculated how the German army could defeat France and Russia on two different fronts. Schlieffen’s scheme was a masterpiece of planning but it failed due to the plan being very rigid.Strategy was deemed to be successful also if you gained any ground at all – even at appalling human cost. In World War I, the “trenches” were literally trenches dug into dirt or mud to shelter soldiers while they were firing at the enemy. Both sides used trenches in the fighting.
This affected the number of casualties extremely. The trenches were, of course, dirty. They could often become crowded, so any kind of wound sustained in the trenches was likely to become infected, whether it was sustained in battle or from opening a can. Shell fragments often carried dirt or other debris into the wounds they created.Infection and gangrene claimed a much higher percentage of fighting men’s lives than did actual deaths directly from fighting. Antibiotics had not been invented in World War I; so soothing care was about the only treatment that could be given.
Besides the direct effects of wounds, the indirect effects of many men in close, dirty quarters meant that common diseases like colds and the flu could spread quickly. When it rained, the trenches became low-level marshes, filled with inches of dirty water that made soldiers susceptible to fungal infections now known as trench foot and trench mouth.Parasites like lice, fleas, and weevils were everywhere, and they could spread other diseases. Dysentery, typhus, and cholera could spread quickly during warm, wet weather, forcing many of the troops into the hospital even if no bullets had ever passed their way. The war lasted four years, between 1914 and 1918 killing and injuring many.
The length of the war affected the number of casualties greatly because the more battles, the more deaths. As the war went on there was a need to make bigger and better weapons.For example the tank was only invented during the First World War to kill more soldiers. The shorter wars killed less and the longer war was bound to kill more people. The amount of deaths on the Western Front was very high compared to all the other areas of war. Most of the fighting took place on the Western Front and many soldiers died because of the conditions and weaponry but the ways that many of them also died was because of the strategy and tactics that were used.
There isn’t only one reason to the number of casualties, but many that contributed to make such a large number.