Life in the Trenches • The trench system built up quickly based on the idea that soldiers would not stay in them very long. • Conditions in the trenches were poor and forced men to live outside in all sorts or weather.
Over the Parapet • Soldiers had to be on look-out for enemy patrols attacking their trenches. • Jobs included cleaning weapons, digging or repairing the trench, filling sandbags and replacing barbed wire.
Waterlogged Conditions • The trenches grew muddy and full of water in the poor weather of the winter months. • Soldiers were forced to stand in cold dirty water sometimes up to their knees or beyond! • Standing in cold water for long periods led to a condition known as Trench Foot.
Trench Foot was an extremely painful condition that caused a soldiers foot to swell up and go numb. • Soldiers would often have to have their foot amputated as a result of this. • Dry socks and whale-oil grease helped to prevent it.
Rats!!! • Trenches were built hurriedly without a proper system for waste disposal. • Food, empty cans, corpses and filth all attracted the rats! • Trench rats grew to huge sizes and would steal food from sleeping soldiers. • They were also to be found on the bodies of dead soldiers. • “We were filled with hatred for them because one could not help feeling that they fed on the dead”
Lice • Lice was another common feature of trench life. • Caused scratching, irritation, misery and disease: Trench Fever. • Soldiers tried burning them with candles. • Soldiers were given huge baths and clothes were rinsed but the eggs remained and hatched again!
Summary • Life in the trenches was very hard, it was also uncomfortable and dangerous. Soldiers had to face: • Freezing weather conditions = lack of sleep • Water logged trenches and Trench Foot • Rats • Lice • As well as risking their lives on a daily basis to maintain and guard their trench from an enemy attack.