Friday, April 18, 2008

World War I: Life in the Trenches, part 1.

In this next series of entries, we'll be focusing on life in the trenches during the first world war.

The Germans had dug the first trenches of the war during a retreat in the battle of the Marne, in 1914. To hold back the pursuing British forces, they started to dig in. This new defense stopped the British in their tracks. Then followed what historians call "The Race to the Sea" in which both sides started to march north and try to outflank the enemy, digging more trenches as they went. By the winter of 1914, the Western front had turned into a "ribbon of death", or line of trenches that stretched 475 miles from the Belgian coast to Switzerland, with a small strip of no-man's-land in between the two opposing sides.

Digging the new trench.

Displaced dirt was thrown over the top of trench and was piled on the side facing the enemy lines.

The trench is half-done! The man in the rear is placing logs in place to hold back the displaced dirt.

Every once and a while, the soldiers had to stop constructing the trench in order to fight; then resume the digging.

This soldier is preparing to throw a grenade, a small lightweight bomb that could easily be thrown by hand into an enemy position. Grenade duels were common, for it enabled the soldiers to fight without being exposed to enemy rifle or machine-gun fire. Finished! The completed trench is done, and supports of logs and corrugated iron have been put in to strengthen the walls and keep them from collapsing inward.

We hope you enjoyed this entry! We will be updating soon.