Essay on The First World War
The First World War, which started in 1914 and ended in 1918, was a colossal war which caused many deaths of innocent soldiers fighting for their country and lives. It was larger than any other war ever seen before and had a traumatic effect on everyone involved and not. In this essay, I will be discussing Gombrich, his opinions of this war and the effect it had on the people and what did the Great War mean to Cottenham and the local area?
The First World War was a ground-breaking war, it affected mean people and caused too many armies to die in a short amount of time and in a small area. In Cottenham, this is shown by the large number of people killed in Cottenham and the surrounding areas, approximately 200 people killed in this war just in this area. Unable to deal with the lack of people in jobs after the war would have brought many places' economies down, having to have children or vulnerable people work in poor conditions to help during and after the war. This war was also ground-breaking because of the differences it had to previous conflicts in the past. In his accounts, he said “The world had never seen a war like it.” This portrays the world was not ready for such a disaster in their times of need. The First World War was thought to be ruthless or the people serving in the war had ruthless tendencies. Gombrich realised in the war that “They fired thousands of guns at each other, bursting out in assaults through barricades or barbed-wire and blown-up trenches”. This small passage shows Gombrich saw the pure violence and hatred between the two opposing teams and the people did not have sympathy and were killing for the sport. Specifically, in Cottenham, A man by the name Arthur Horace Holt was killed when his ship blew up while in action by the Germans, this shows that even on any transport they were being tracked. This shows that had no privacy or time not being in fear of dying. People did not consider the person’s family, even though it is extremely typical in wars, it shows how dedicated they are to fight for their country. Another example of ruthlessness in this war is dropping bombs on innocent villages just to worsen their lives and the surrounding ones.
The First World War was exhausting for all the soldiers alike and the people staying at home. People going missing or lost along the way was a terrible yet common occurrence. Fellow soldiers would try to find them but either pronounced them dead after hours of searching or killed along the way. However, sadly, most of the time they would not go searching as the deaths were too common that it was expected. The people ‘safe’ in villages and towns had to try to keep positive yet got exhausted of having to wait to see if their loved ones were alive and well. Gombrich agreed in the quote saying, “In the end, however, they were exhausted”. Everyone was exhausted of the tension and days if no rest which carried on for years after the war declared its end. In Cottenham, children would have to work jobs meant for grown men which made them exhausted and afraid of the reality.
The First World War was pure agony for most soldiers presented on the field. Gombrich believed that “People invented horrible weapons that murdered and mutilated thousands each day… some of which were gases… anyone who breathed them in died in terrible agony”. Since the large amounts of machinery and more versatile guns or weapons, in general, were introduced, they became better and more effective, causing more people to die than a traditional cavalry and sword fight. They had to be brutal and their goal was to win, so they had to make people suffer to do that. Even people outside of the wars were affected with the pure agony getting attacked when they were not a part of the war, many died in the poor conditions in the trenches and were forced to be left to die om pure agony.
The First World War was traumatic for everyone involved, there was not many people who were not negatively impacted by this war. Gombrich stated in his studies that “Eleven million people died in that war and entire regions were devastated in way they had never seen before”. This stated the war affected too many people to the point it was so extraordinary it stuck with people their whole lives. People had to get called to say their family died in war when they were assured that they would be okay. In Cottenham, a family by the name of the Worland’s lost three of their sons to this war which would have been traumatising to happen in such a short amount of time. Young people had to see their family and village die while having to take over old jobs with no one to come back to them, leaving families torn and devastated.
To conclude, the Great War meant a lot to Cottenham as the effects stayed with it for a long time. Cottenham, in remembrance to the soldiers lost in battle, they built a memorial in the village. Each of these criteria affected Cottenham in different ways and was able to shape the community and economy in impactful and terrible ways along the years. The loss of people affected them probably the most emotionally whereas the loss of jobs and income affected them the most economically.