Life in the Trenches. World War One. Top-View. Front-lines are called the “ fire trench ” Zig zag pattern Front lines protected by barbed wire and sandbags Behind the front-lines were support and reserve trenches (200-500 yards) Communication trenches used to move supplies
World War One
Front-lines are called
the “fire trench”
Front lines protected by
barbed wire and sandbags
Behind the front-lines
were support and reserve
trenches (200-500 yards)
used to move supplies
Tunnelling used to attack
Front of trench
was called the parapet
Back of trench was
Sandbags used to
Fire step for
About 75,000 British soldiers were killed by British shells
Trench foot afflicted over 20,000 men in British army between 1914-15
To avoid, men would change their socks several times a day or cover their feet in whale oil
Tunnelling was used to place mines under enemy’s defensive position
Could take as long as a year to dig a tunnel and build a mine
Dugouts grew in size, by 1917 some would hold 2 battalions at a time (600-2400 soldiers)
Latrine duty was used as punishment
Between 1914-1918 British army identified 80,000 men as suffering from shell shock
Frederick Joseph Bird
You will see by the above address that I am back again in England and in hospital. But am thankful to say I have no open wounds. Just a severely sprained back and my nerves are badly shaken up. I was buried in the trenches, and you may be sure I thought my last moment had come. My chum next to me was killed - instantly killed. Something seemed to tell me the day before that I was going to get it.
I have been in the hospital two weeks now, counting the time I was in the Australian Hospital before I came to England. Yesterday was the first time I was out of bed for an hour or two. I am to shaky to walk yet, but am getting along nicely. On Wednesday who should visit me but Johnnie. I was so pleased to see him. He is near us at Whitley. We are 31 miles past London-rather a long way from home. I told dear Ettie not to come so far, as I may soon be moved to a Canadian hospital.
The doctor in France also saw my toe, and he said I should not have been passed. One overlaps the other, the same as Johnnie got his discharge for. The doctor there was going to operate on them, but they won't allow him to. So I do not think I will have to go back to France. We were in the same place as Harold got his arm off. It was awful. Perhaps you read the report in the paper-the bombardment of Sunday the 3rd. I thank God he spared me to dear Ettie.
This morning I had a letter from Harold, also one from Johnnie. Harold writes very good indeed with his left hand, and he is getting along fine, waiting for his new arm. Now Lallie, I hope you are quite well, and I think you had better come back to England and be with us all here. You know there is always a home waiting here for you with dear Ettie and I. Well, I have no news. When you write to me send it to Ettie and she will forward it on to me, unless I am home by then. Remember me to Mrs. Booty, also, Mrs. Northgraves when you see them. Take every care of your dear self. Heaps of love. God bless you.
Your Loving Brother, Fred
#1) The close conditions in trenches (here filled with Belgian soldiers) led to infestations of lice and the spread of disease. Snow and rain filled the trenches and had no place to go. Therefore, men spent days standing in knee-high, filthy water. This led to a condition called ‘trench-foot’, where skin rotted from the bone. Frostbite led to amputation. For a young man used to the open skies of the English fields or North American prairies, the confinements of the trenches could lead to severe claustrophobia.
#2) The trench, when we reached it was half full of mud and water. We set to work to try to drain it. Our effects were hampered by the fact that the French, who had first occupied it, had buried their dead in the bottom and the sides. Every stroke of the pick encountered a body. The smell was awful. -- Private Pollard
#3) Our trenches are… ankle deep mud. In some places trenches are waist deep in water. Time is spent digging, filling, sandbags, building up parapets, fetching stores, etc. One does not have time to be weary. -- Private Leary
#4) If you have never had trench feet described to you. I will tell you. Your feet swell to two or three times their normal size and go completely dead. You could stick a bayonet into them and not feel a thing. Of you are fortunate enough not to lose your feet and the swelling begins to go down, it is then that the intolerable , indescribable agony begins I have heard men cry and even scream with the pain and many have had to have their feet and legs amputated.
-- Sergeant Harry Roberts
#5) The outstanding feature of the trenches was the extraordinary number of rats. The area was infected with them. It was impossible to keep them our of the dugouts. They grew fat on the food that they pilfered from us, and anything they could pick up in or around the trenches; they were bloated and loathsome to look at. Some were nearly as big as cats. We were filled with an instinctive hatred of them, because however one tried to put the though out of one’s mind, one could not help feeling that they fed on the dead. -- Stuart Dolden
#6) The biscuits are so hard that you had to put them on a firm surface and smash them with a stone or something. I’ve held one in my hand and hit the sharp corner of a brick wall and only hurt my hand. Sometimes we soaked the smashed fragments in water for several days. Then we would heat and drain, pour condensed milk over a dishful of the stuff and get it down.
-- Private Pressey
Historical Perspectives: How did soldiers’ experience in the trenches change their perspectives on war?
Cause and Consequence: How was the trench system started and what were the ‘unintended’ consequences?
Cause and Effect: Was the use of trench warfare a ‘turning point’ in history? Why or why not?
Historical Significance: Why is trench warfare historically significant? (Revealing or evokes change)