World War 1 was a new kind of war, with new and deadlier weapons having a devastating effect on all sides. The tactics of previous wars did not apply as this was a war of stalemate and attrition, not one of movement and flight. The Western Front which ran from the Channel coast to Switzerland was almost 420 miles long but only 20 miles wide at the widest point. This thin piece of land was constantly fought over for four years and when the war was over, most of it resembled the surface of the moon more than the peaceful, green agricultural land it had been at the start of 1914.
Living conditions for the soldiers were dreadful in the trenches, often wading up to their knees in foul-smelling slime which froze in the winter. In many places they were surrounded by corpses as there was no time to bury the dead and they were often incorporated into the trench walls.
New weapons caused devastation amongst the soldiers, poison gas could overcome them silently as they slept, causing terrible breathing difficulties and blindness and eventually death. Shrapnel (pieces of metal) caused serious wounds but the gas gangrene which often followed it because it took so long for soldiers to get to a hospital was even worse. A new disease unseen before, the treatment which had been used in previous wars did not work, even amputation could not stop the spread of the disease and death was often the result. Amputation which had long been the treatment of choice for battlefield injuries could not be applied to many soldiers in the First World War as they had severe facial injuries. The war inspired medical science to improve old treatments and find new ones.
Here is a list of the countries who fought for the Allies - Great Britain and the Countries of the British Empire, (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, New Foundland, South Africa, India), Russia,France, Belgium, Italy, USA, Japan, Roumania, Serbia, Greece, Portugal, Montenegro.
Here is a list of the Central Powers who fought against the Allies - Germany, Austria Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria.
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