In World War one, even though trenchlife was so miserable, soldiers kept on fighting. I understand that some of it is patriotism, others for their friends, or they were forced to, but I've heard that some soldiers fought because they got rewards and had a better lifestyle.
So what sort of rewards did they get? What sort of different lifestyle did they have, which was better (eg food)? How did this encourage them to carry on fighting?
Thank you so much.
I'm continuing this thread because it raises lots of interesting questions. When motivation of soldiers in the First World War is discussed, it generally concentrates on why soldiers 'joined up'. However, Falora's question focused on improving motivation during the rest of the war.
The British certainly felt that rewards for soldiers encouraged them. They awarded large numbers of existing medals and decorations
(such as the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Service Order) as well as introducing new ones (e.g the Military Cross for officers in 1914 and the Military Medal for soldiers in 1916). Thousands of medals were awarded during the First World War. Other distinctions were available as well such as the 'Mention in Despatches' (M.i.D.) where a soldier's or officer's name was publihsed on an official list. However, the effectiveness of encouraging soldiers is hard to judge. I feel that it is most unlikely that most recipients of medals acted as they did so they could get a medal. There were probably a few 'glory-hunters' but most soldiers did brave things for different reasons, including helping their friends, survival or 'just doing their job'. Furthermore, fighters in the front line often felt that officers safe behind the lines seemed to win more medals than the men at the front. However, overall it was a mark of honour to be awarded a gallantry medal.
A lesser-known reward was a certificate awarded by formations at Corps, Division or Brigade level or by individual units to officers and soldiers who had not been awarded a medal but had served particularly well or bravely. These awards were not 'official' in the way of the medals mentioned above, but enough survive in museum collections to show that they were important to some soldiers. It was a way of showing a soldier that his contribution was valued.Promotions
were given as a reward for service. Private soldiers could be promoted to non-commissioned officer and, later in the war, sent for officer training. Officers who did well could also be promoted. However, such promotions were not usual and most men rose in the army only through length of service. Not all soldiers wanted to be promoted, as becoming a corporal set you apart from your friends. However, promotion meant higher status and more pay so it was an incentive for some.
Unless you were lucky enouggh to be posted away from the front, living conditions
for 'decorated' and 'ordinary' soldiers were the same.
These comments refer to the British Army. All armies had systems of medals and decorations. However, some such as the German army, did not tend to promote officers in the same way.
I personally believe that 'small-unit cohesion', supporting your mates, and expectations of honour and duty were more important than rewards, but that's just my opinion; and another story.