Friday, March 6, 2009

World War I, Life in the Trenches: Part Two

In part one of the entry series, we saw how trench warfare became the main method of fighting on the western front during the First World War. Now, we will not only see what took place, but what day-to-day life was like for the soldiers in the trenches.

On Guard Duty. Both sides had to be careful to watch the enemy lines at all times, so that if an attack came they would not be caught off guard. When a soldier was on guard duty, he had to keep out of sight, for enemy snipers were always a danger.

Home Sweet Home. Soldiers tried to find what little shelter from the elements that they could, but the constant shelling and bombing meant that the shelter had to be "bomb-proof". The most common type of shelter was, therefore, a small cave-like hole dug out of the forward side of the trench. These were often nick-named "worm holes".

Some underground shelters had log-lined walls to hold the dirt back.

What's For Lunch? All meals were usually pre-packaged, or was prepared in the rear lines and brought it to the front lines in buckets. Cooking in the front lines was prohibited, as smoke from cook fires could attract grenades and mortar fire. The most common meal for the Allied soldiers was mass-produced canned corn beef and potatoes. This was often accompanied by tea if you were in the British Army.

All soldiers were equipped with a mess kit consisting of a multi-purpose tin pan with a removable lid, and a knife, fork, and spoon, usually wrapped in a napkin.

Winter In The Trenches. While spring and fall brought mostly rain to the trench-laced French farmland, winter often brought bouts of cold, uncomfortable rain or snow showers.

A soldier keeps watch over the trench lines after a light snowfall.Winter was the worst season of all for soldiers in the trenches. The winter also brought many new problems; frostbite and trenchfoot, a condition received from standing in cold water for extended periods, proved devastating. Disease was common year-round, but in the winter it increased drastically, claiming the lives of thousands of soldiers on both sides.

A soldier makes his way through a trench knee-deep in mud.

As we bring this dual-part entry to a close, we hope that you all have enjoyed this entry series! Thank you all for the comments as we return to the blog-world, and we shall be updating soon.