In WWI, why were conditions in France in 1916 and 1917 so difficult for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

Essay by ipodrixHigh School, 10th gradeA+, August 2004

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The conditions in France during WW1 for the AIF were horrendous because of the stalemate in the trenches, disease, rainy conditions and new weapons of war.

The stalemate and the war of attrition took a heavy toll on the troops of the AIF. There was constant enemy fire and the constant attacks and counter attacks to attempt to make ground shattered the soldier's morale and strength. The trenches also created psychological stress and broke their spirits, soldiers often suffered from shell-shock which was little understood and treated as cowardice.

Rainfall was also a major problem in the trenches. Often they would become waterlogged, lowering the temperature inside. Being in permanent wet conditions, the soldiers caught a disease known as "trench foot". It caused the foot to rot which would then have to be amputated. To prevent this, the soldiers had to rub whale oil into their feet. However many soldiers chose not to do this to intentionally get the disease and be transported away, therefore they preferred to have no feet rather then to stay in the trenches.

Hygiene was terrible with the piles of filth and bodily waste, the trenches smelt terrible even without the rotting corpses of fallen soldiers passing on disease. It caused an infestation of lice and maggots which caused disease such as dysentery. The food the soldiers were given was often so rancid that they chose not to eat it. The soldiers were forced to live with enormous rats without the luxuries of comfortable sleeping quarters and the ability to keep themselves clean.

With the new weapons of war, horrifying wounds at a large scale from machine gun fire and poisonous gases were never seen before. Heavily wounded soldiers would have to endure a long painful journey to the field hospital before they could...