Date Thesis Awarded

4-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

History

Advisor

Julie Richter

Committee Member

David Corlett

Committee Member

Michael Butler

Committee Member

Kelly Charles

Abstract

This paper examines the combat factors that impacted the morale of the United States infantrymen in the European Theater of Operations in the world wars, and analyzes the measures taken by the military to maintain the morale of their troops. Morale was a critical, but often misunderstood factor of combat performance on the front line. By parsing the environmental factors in combat that influenced the morale of the infantry and gauging administrative response over time, a clearer understanding of the role of morale in the lives of the troops emerges, as does the importance of military authority in providing a support infrastructure for its men. This support was integral to the efficiency of units in combat – it regulated the powerful psychological undertow that drove the U.S. military’s most powerful weapon – its ground troops. Understanding morale maintenance in the world wars is also key to understanding the conversation on PTSD that developed in later conflicts, and how the military undertook to understand and process psychological combat casualties.

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