chapter  2
10 Pages

1914: Oops! the Plans Fail

We still tend to think that the war was all of one piece and that those who experienced it had a single, common experience. The war, however, developed what the historian Trevor Wilson, quoting the novelist Frederick Manning, calls its ‘myriad faces’ (Wilson, 1986). The soldier of 1914 encountered something different from the soldier of 1917; the French soldier something different from the German; the front soldier something different from the people at home, who often seemed to the soldiers to share nothing with them any more [Docs. 6, 12 and 16]; the mother worrying at home something different from the nurse at a base hospital [Doc. 17]; the war profiteer something different from the conscientious objector in jail. As the fighting tended to subside over winter, giving those in charge a chance to reconsider their approach, the war also changed over time. Each year it lasted formed a distinct period:

1. 1914. Manoeuvre on the battlefields, bogging down in the west into unexpected positional war while the war in the east remained more open and mobile; at home, ‘business as usual’.