War in the Trenches
The war was fought by men on foot, in a flat open country that gave no
shelter from enemy fire. Facing armies dug trences as fortifications
from which to defend their position or attack the enemy. When the
Germans turned onto the Allies, they dug trenches on the River Aisne,
as a line of defence. By mid-October, two lines of trenches faced each
other from the Swiss border to the Channel coast.
These single lines were soon to become a elaborate networks of
defence. The trenches were fronted with masses of barbed wire and
with strategically placed machine gun posts. These trench systems
were everything except a let down.
There were different sectors dividing up the trenches. There was a
“cushy sector”, where the men could just relax and take a rest, these
had little fighting where as “active sectors”, there was lots of it.
On “cushy sectors” the men agreed to an un-official truce to “let
sleeping dogs lie”. There were ways of arranging this without the
generals knowing. Gunners would fire there guns at a specific time, to
let the other side get out of the way. No one shot at each others
toilets, in case the others did the same back.
Since most soldiers in the sectors wanted to stay alive, they were
left to themselves. If the men on the other trench weren’t trying to
kill them ,why should they kill them? The phrase “live and let live”
was first used in the summer of 1915. “Live and let live” drove the
generals crazy, but there was so much that they could do about it.
What was life like in the trenches?
Life in the trenches was a nightmare on its own. When it rained, and
it often did, the trenches would be flooded for up to weeks at a
time. The men had to eat, sleep and fight in wet uniforms constantly.
They were surrounded by mud, water and pests. They often had to
endure searing heat or bitter cold.
The trenches had to be easily repaired, because due to the \raining,
there would sometimes be small mudslides. This is when the mud from
one side of the trench was would slip off.
The soldier would often have to live like this for up to weeks at a
time like this. Food and sanitation were poor at best and non existent
at worst. They had to deal with rats and lice living off them all the
time. The rats fed on the dead bodys of men who had already died, and
the lice on the livng bodies of the solider, since they were stuck in
damp uniform all the time.
They tried to make the trenches more suitable for the men by making a
resting area, a toilet area, an eating area and so on.
The men suffered from many illnesses. These were:
Trench foot was caused by a microscopic fungus, that breed in cold and
damp conditions. This was first spotted by the Britsh Expeditionary
Force in the muddy...