With the conditions so filthy and unsanitary in the trenches, soldiers not only had to worry about being injured or killed by the enemy but also by the conditions in which they lived. Ellis (1976) said, “The British picture on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918 had 2,690,054 men became battle casualties and 3,528,486 men succumbed to sickness and disease. However, men who were wounded didn’t fare as well as the sick. Thirty-one percent of battle casualties eventually died as against less than one percent of the sick” (p. 58). The French observed that, in 1917 alone, “[of the] 106,167 admissions 52,903 cases were linked to sicknesses. In other words almost fifty percent of casualties were directly attributed to the appalling conditions in the trenches” (p. 58). If a soldier survived diseases such as Weil’s disease or trench fever, it subsequently meant that his immune system was weakened, due not only to the previous illness but the lack of nutrition that soldiers received. With compromised immune systems, soldiers stood the chance of developing pneumonia and influenza, illnesses that “accounted for 82 percent of deaths caused by disease” (Byerly, 2005, p. 6). If the diseases did not kill the soldiers, they were still left with the health issues caused by them. Because some diseases contracted in the trenches resulted in soldiers losing extremities, the men could not ever forget the time spent in the trenches. Their wounds served as constant reminders of the dreadful conditions in which they lived. When World War I ended, approximately 8.5 million service people lost their lives (Public Broadcast Service, n.d).
Battle claimed many of these lives. However, the filthy, unsanitary, and
appalling conditions of the trenches also caused a multitude of these