Albert William Lavender

My character’s name is called Albert William Lavender. He was born on 26/January/1894, at Hillingdon Heath, Middlesex. At the start of World War 1 he was at the age of 20. Before the war he was a butcher, he didn’t have a very good lifestyle with his family. His dad died before just after he left for war, and because of Hannah (mum) not working they were a very poor family. He had no brothers or sisters, which made him very lonely and jealous of other families. He believed very strongly in God and went to church every Sunday.

Joining Up

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Many people and Albert joined up because of peer pressure from friends. Also to persuade him the propaganda posters around town gave him inspiration to fight and kill for king and country, the Lord Kitchner poster made men feel insecure as he was pointing directly at you, and some people felt like an individual as if he only wants you. [See Appendix 1 Lord Kitchner Poster]. When he decided to not join up with his friends, they all called him a homosexual. So he joined up from threats of girls not going to like him. He saw many people be cheered by women and getting attention from the whole town. As he was jealous of other families he wanted attention. Also because of family encouragement. First of all his mum did not appreciate him joining up, but after seeing his dad’s reaction of a very big smile and calling him a brave lad he decided to join up. Within modern warfare men do not get called gay or a wimp for not joining, but they are sometimes noticed as crazy or stupid. More women are now joining the battle front.

Effects

When people joined including Albert, were physically and mentally changed, by simply being hit by gunfire, or by getting shell shock. When he first entered his battle station, he thought he could cope with the lifestyle in the trenches, but after a few days, he realised that the trenches where a cramped, muddy, wet, rat infested habitat.

Physical Effects

Albert and his comrades were mostly under fire all day by German soldiers. Albert was extremely lucky to not have been hit by gun fire once. He saw a lot of soldiers being gassed or hit by shells. Albert came under heavy fire of machine guns during the Battle of the Somme. He survived with no wounds to the arms and legs, which made his confidence increase greatly. After the Somme he was promoted to a Corporal. He suffered from an explosive from a shell and died just before the end of the war. Unlike Albert, many people had been gassed losing their sight. Also at least a half of his battalion lost their hearing due to explosion from shells. Physically many people became stronger and tougher to cope with these harsh conditions.

Many people caught the disease trench foot. They picked up trench foot because of the wet and muddy conditions of the trench. This disease caused soldier’s toes to fall off and make their feet rot [See Appendix 2 – Trench Foot]. Albert also suffered from barbed wire cuts, these massive rolls of twisted metal where spread for miles across the battlefields. Many people attempted to blow up the wire, but this method was no good as it would just scatter the wire further around the battlefield. Albert managed to cross barbed wire a few times. Some people would only get a few minor cuts; others could lose a toe or a finger, even very deep severe cuts. Which could keep a person fingerless or not as mobile for the rest of their life.

Mental Effects

Luckily he only suffered from mental effects once. Approximately 80,000 British soldiers suffered from shell shock [See Appendix 3]. Shell shock consisted of lose of hearing, being unable to speak and became disoriented. To try and leave the war, many people tried to fake an illness, but doctors treated them until they gave in. Doctors would do this as they wanted as many soldiers as they could have on the battle front. If someone were potentially ill they sometimes just torture him or her, until their body would either, die or the body would have to make the illness seem unreal. This has been backed up with a film called “Regeneration”. In this film a man was mute, after seeing unbelievable fighting. The doctors did not trust him and thought he was lying, so they put electronic rods down he throat and electrocuted him until his body was able to speak again. This is a very reliable source as the source was created based on true facts from an actual witness of world war ones novel.

Other soldiers had the same illness as what Albert had. He had the problem of the thought of dying. The effects of war were too great for him and he mentally could not cope with his surroundings. Other people had the illness of the horrid smells within the battlefield; people would not have fresh air due to the smell of; corpses, rats, weather (or mud and rain), and gunpowder.

During World War One Albert had the opportunity to write poems, make a diary and send letters to his loved ones. As Albert did not want to disturb or frighten his family, he decided to lie and pretend fighting for Britain was as good as he expected and that he loved seeing all the new locations such as France and Germany [Somme] [See Appendix 4] If Albert tried to send warning to over men and his family about the war, his letters would be censored. This makes letters less reliable to this question because we do not know if the letters sent are censored or not. Albert saw his friend Tom die from a sniper bullet to the head. Albert saw this devastating death during the Battle of the Somme. The Battle is best remembered for its first day, 1st July 1916, on which the British suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead. Which caused Albert to worry tremendously, as the thought of dying was almost certain due to the amount of gunfire, shells, corpses and a bad hygiene.

Religious Beliefs And The Government

Before the war many people and Albert believed in God, and were Christian. During the war, religious beliefs changed for some. Due to thousands of people dying, Albert thought that God would save him. Until the day he saw thousands of people die at the Somme. He thought that God would save the British and punish the Germans. However nothing changed within trench fighting. Albert no longer believed in God, and would no longer pray. This was a massive personal effect on Albert as a result of the war because it had changed his lifestyle back at home.

As propaganda said to soldiers that war not be all fighting, and they would get to do sport and games. Many people, including Albert, were disappointed with the government. Albert could not believe his eyes when he first saw the trenches. He thought it would not be permanent and that he would be moved to a new camp with better facilities, but after 2 years in the trenches, he decided that he was going to die. He wanted to fight for King and country, but after 2 years, he fought for himself and his family due to the lies from the government. However, during the ending period of the war, his belief in God was regained. He thought to himself that God must have been the only reason he survived.

The government played a big part in convincing Albert. With all the pressure from friends and the attention from the ladies, Albert was certain to join but have the fear of fighting. But when he saw the posters of people playing cricket and sport [Appendix 1 For Sport Poster], he thought that war couldn’t be all that bad and signed up. This resulted in Albert feeling outraged for signing up because the posters convinced him he was going to do activities and not just go out and fight.

Physical Surroundings

The trenches where a nightmare to live in, wet and muddy flooring, rats and lice everywhere and human bodies everywhere. Many people caught trench foot, due to the wet and muddy lifestyle, (More information on trench foot in physical effects). The toilets were not really toilets, they were a section of trench that people went to toilet in, you had no privacy and nothing to put the waste into, as they did not have toilets only buckets. Another effect of the war was the dehumanising effect on men. Mud, wetness and lice infected clothing. When people get their uniform washed, they would not get their own uniform back, and half the time it would not be clean, due to a lot of uniforms being washed inefficiently at the same time. After the clothing being washed thousands of lice would infect the clothing and make life hell for the soldier [See Appendix 5 for trenches].

From one trench to another trench was called “no man’s land”. Within no mans land there where thousands of dead bodies, heavy gunfire, large craters which had either been created by shells or mines. Albert had to cross no mans land a few times… He managed to cross the Somme without taking life-threatening wounds. But because of the horrid sights of the battle, he suffered from shell shock and disorientation.

Food

The food during World War One was poor. Most of the food would be canned fruit, vegetables and some basic items. For example during The Great War they would have “Simcoe” Brand Pork with beans [1915]. Drinks were condensed like a powdered substance. Like milk and tea, “Armour” brand evaporated milk [1916]. During the Great war, many people would have to wait ages for their dinner, this caused Albert to give up waiting and attempt to starve himself; he thought that this method could get him sent home. The rats and dead carcases could also infect food; this would cause a soldier to become sick of food poisoning, making life even harder. You would not get more than was necessary; you would be lucky to get anything more than a large handful of food. This was due to the amount of soldiers just like Albert at the time. This caused soldiers moral to decrease.

Modern Warfare In Comparison To World War One

Within World War One Albert had a cheap rifle, which could have a bayonet equipped to the end of the barrel. This 43cm blade would do nothing with ranged combat, but could kill a German at close combat. Nowadays many soldiers have either a rifle, or a machine gun. But these weapons of the future could do much more damage and the gunner would have more accuracy. The lifestyles of a soldier are now more hygienic, meaning that they have less chance of catching an infection. Unlike Albert, armed forces have less chance of being shot down or hit by an explosive, as they have new tactical ideas and have learnt from World War One. The food during World War One where no way near the same in modern fighting. As the rations are far more developed and there is enough food to satisfy you.

The Germans

During The Great War the Germans had the better equipment and trenches. As Albert had the mud, water filled trenches, when he realised the Germans had concrete, slightly drier trenches, his moral decreased. Also when men tried to cross No Mans Land to attack the enemy trenches, they realised that the Hun had Machine Guns which apparently were “over-rated” according to Field Marshall Haig during The Somme. So Albert’s moral had dropped nearly to breaking point. Normally the Hun would have the higher ground. Therefore that meant Albert would have to run up a hill, through barbed wire, into machine gun fire and try and shoot people in concrete trenches. Albert thought that the German’s were big massive ogres, that killed children and women [See Appendix 1]. This was due to the persuasive posters all around the town. In Germany, they had meetings within schools. The teacher would stand up and try and convince students to join up and fight. If you didn’t you would be classed as a “gay” or a “wimp”. Pressure by friends would make you join, even if you did not want to, much as the same as Britain.

Environment and Lifestyle after the War

With many people dead from battle, the remains of the fields and towns were dreadful. The fields that millions of people had once fought on had become an unbelievable death zone. There were many craters from shells, large pieces of scattered shrapnel and barbed wire, piles of dead bodies. Therefore when Albert left the battlefield he took back bad memories of his surroundings.

Thoughts after the War

After the war, Albert had no trust in the government; he had been lied to, too many times. Thousands of people including Albert believed the war to be; far better resources than there actually was and a thrilling experience. However, after Albert’s experiences in the mud filled trenches, he could no longer trust anyone, not even his own family. He had seen some unbelievable experiences, but ones that will never have left his mind. After the war, he decided to leave his family, his home, his job and rejoin the army. He thought by rejoining the army, he could die the way he should die, during combat. The World War had given Albert some really terrible visions. When ever his family would try and comfort him he would just argue and have flash backs of the war. He had nothing to lose, he had no home, no job, no friends, so he rejoined.

Conclusion

Albert William Lavender was affected by the war due to; He took minor wounds too his arms and legs which decreased his mobility for a few months. His trust for the Government was completely depleted as they promised thing within the propaganda posters, like sport playing. Due to the loss of trust within everyone, Albert had nothing to lose and rejoined the army after the way. During this time he was killed by an explosion from a shell. He had serious flashbacks which meant he had emotional moments through out the rest of his life. These flashbacks included things like the trenches, the death of his best friend Tom and the fear of dying. His beliefs in religion changed.

He started the war with high hopes and belief in God. But as The Great War continued he started to lose his beliefs as thousands of people had died, and God had not saved them. The fitness of his body changed greatly, his physical form had became stronger from carry weaponry and tools, and digging trenches. But his mental form decreased tremendously as he lost all trust, beliefs and mortality. He could not trust anyone, including his own family. After battle, Albert had nothing else left. His family, he did not trust. Friends where all dead. His job was unavailable, and he had no trust in the Government.

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