The Trenches on the Western Front
After the German plan had failed they began to retreat. Then they decided to dig trenches and fight the rest of the war where they were and so picked the best ground which was not only higher but forced the allied forces to live in the worst conditions possible. So most of the allied trenches were only just a few feet above sea level and after digging they soon reached the water. The picture above shows soldiers walking through a trench. I am quite sure that this is staged, because the cameraman is very high and the second soldier is walking normally and his head is above trench level.
But this picture still supports my idea that the trenches were waterlogged and this how many of the soldiers died. Here are two quotes. The first from Captain Impey of the Royal Sussex Regiment wrote this account in 1915. “The trenches were wet and cold and at this time some of them did not have duckboards or dug-outs. The battalion lived in mud and water. ” The second Private Livesay, letter to parents living in East Grinstead (6th March, 1915) “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. ” I am not sure how this letter was sent because the government checked all letters before they were sent. They did this so the public kept a positive attitude about the war. I am now certain after reading those two quotes and that picture that the trenches were waterlogged. Lots of times the trenches would cave in or dugouts and there would be lots of bodies underneath and this would attract rats. One pair of these rats could have 880 more so u can imagine that the trenches were swarming with them. These rats could grow to huge sizes.
They would eat a dead body but going into the eyes and devour the organs inside. Captain Lionel Crouch wrote to his wife about life in the trenches in 1917. “I can’t sleep in my dugout, as it is over-run with rats. Pullman slept here one morning and woke up to find one sitting on his face. I can’t face that, so I share Newbery’s dugout. ” So I am sure there was rats in the trenches. All in no mans land was barbed wire this was to stop infantry to getting into your trench. Before they thought of sending troops to cut the wire they used to put a pipe full of explosives under the barbed wire and blow it up.
These were known as Bangalore Torpedo. This is a drawing a spy made of German trench barbed wire. There is only one word to describe the trenches in world war one is Disgusting. They were just gross and so unhygienic. The trenches were about the about 7ft tall. They had duckbords on the bottom to stop the soldiers from getting wet, this didn’t work because the water level rose to the soldiers knee level. This is how many diseases were caught like hypothermia and trench foot. This is such a horrible illness to imagine.
It happened because the water soaks through your shoes and socks until it reaches your feet. Then after a few hours your feet begin to soak in water and then begin to swell up. So you take your boot off and then you can’t get it back on. So in conclusion the duckbords was not very helpful. Next would be an ammunition hole this was a box in the side of the trench. Next was a firing step this was to stand on and rest your elbow on an elbow rest, which was usually, a plank of wood. There was a dugot, which was like a cave in the trench and was very unsafe.
These were about 2 ft. nd 4 ft. 6 in. wide. Roofed with corrugated iron or brushwood and then covered with a minimum of 9 inches of earth. You were ment to go in there to sleep and if there was a bomb run but the soldiers wouldn’t go in there of fear of it caving in. The main fear of all the soldiers was going over the top because there was such a small chance of surving. This is because the genrals are still fighting the old war. This is a simple cross section of what a trench in the first world war would have looked like. The sand bags were used to absorb shell fragments and shots from the guns.
Research says that an average gun shot would penetrate 15 inches into the sand bags. Between each of the trenches was a space of land called no mans land this is covered in bodies, shell holes and barbed wire. This never would have any plant life on because of the constant shelling. In the picture you see what the trench system would have looked like. In both trenches there were enemy snipers. These were just out to see if they could get a few shots on enemy troops. In the trenches it was unlucky the light three cigarettes with one match.
This is because on the first light the sniper gets his gun ready. On the second cigarette he will have loaded and taken aim, and on the third he would have shot. Sometimes the Germans would throw up a kite with English writing on, so the English would stick their head up to try to read it, and then they would be shot. The English made fake trees to hide spy’s and snipers in. I find this quite a clever Idea if the trees didn’t look so fake. A new invention in the First World War was the tank. The first tank to be built and been able to use was the MARK1 in the summer of 1916.
This was very unreliable and they frequently broke down. The good thing about the tank was that it struck fear into the hearts of their enemies. The Germans had machineguns on their front line these were usually concealed inside a pillbox. This was a concrete box with a narrow slit for enemy machine guns to fire out of. And during an attack it made it very hard for the allied forces to attack. Pillboxes measured 30 ft. along the front and were about 10 ft. wide. Machine gunners were deeply hated by the infantry and they were more likely to be killed when captured than other soldiers were.
The generals still believed that old war tactics would still work so they used Calvary. The cavalry were of limited value in trench warfare. However, during major offensives, mounted troops were still massed in large numbers waiting the opportunity to charge the enemy lines. When the cavalry were used on the Western Front it was found to be completely ineffective against machine gun fire. A tactic used on the Western Front was to dig short trenches (saps) across No Man’s Land. These were dug towards the enemy trenches and let soldiers move forward without getting slaughtered by machinegun fire.
Saps would be dug along a section of front-line. These were then joined together at their far ends to create a new trench. Saps were also used as listening posts. When a British Army soldier was told to attack the enemy the Western Front he carried a total of 30 kilograms of equipment. This included a rifle, two mills grenades, 220 rounds of ammunition, a steel helmet, wire cutters, field dressing, entrenching tool, greatcoat, two sandbags, rolled ground sheet, water bottle, haversack, mess tin, towel, shaving kit, extra socks, message book and preserved food rations.