Pictures of World War I

Each Worth 1000 Words…

A Soldier’s Life

World War 1 marked the beginning of global social class revolution.

At the turn of the century, status and stature in life was far more rigidly decided by birth than by merit or accomplishment.  Even as the war began, the wealthy, “gentleman” of privileged society were assigned officer roles while the poorer and working class were soldiers.  Amazingly, even prisoners of war were separated with different priviliges depending on their social class.  Of course war (which often means the matter of life and death) is a great equalizing force.  Boundaries started to change as soldiers performed and died bravely and certain officers exercised poor judgment than was expected of them.

So a soldier’s life was simple and complex at the same time.  It was rigid and then potentially or life-alteringly flexible as the war went on.  For veterans of the war, there was common bond that made them different from those who did not fight or could not fight.  Alas a new social class emerges of the war veteran.

The changes of course were fast from a historical perspective but still slow in terms of years and generations.  However the forces of change – once unleashed – could not be stopped.

The day-to-day life of over 65 million soldiers from over three dozen countries fighting in the Great War could not be summarized so easily on one website page.   You have to consider the context of how the entire world was mobilized in one way or another for what was expected to be a short, swift war.  No one ever considered how long and traumatizing the war ended up becoming.  The scale of death, destruction, squalor, trauma, and disillusionment profoundly affected the soldiers and their families for generations to come.

In this section, we cover some key areas relating to the life of a solider during the war.  Each article and/or subsection is followed by a link to a related photo gallery.