A British Officer’s Responsibilities, Relationships, and Respect on the Western Front in the First World War
At the outbreak of the First World War, young middle- and upper-class British men were leaving their public schools and homes behind to enlist as officers in the British Army. Encouraged by the ideals of fighting for one’s country and inspired by bravery, men enlisted, many with hopes of seeing the trenches on the Western Front in France. Certain expectations and responsibilities came with joining the British Army as an officer. Paramount of these was trying to maintain the morale and health of the soldiers as time passed, ceaselessly, in the trenches. Most officers, only having seen battle on a few occasions, spent the war attempting to provide for their soldiers through the harsh conditions of trench life and warfare. Throughout the war, officers often grew very close to their soldiers, and the relationship of an officer to his “batman,” a servant who accompanied him to the trenches, is one of particular interest. Regardless of class backgrounds, friendships between an officer and his subordinates did occur. The role of officer often demanded respect, which was given to those who deserved it. Officers earned the respect of their men by showing, through their actions and behaviors, why such regard was warranted.
A British Officer’s Responsibilities, Relationships, and Respect on the Western Front in the First World War.
Undergraduate Review, 14, 95-101.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol14/iss1/16
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