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Trench Warfare

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by

Rhiannon Campbell

on 15 October 2014

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Transcript of Trench Warfare

Trench Warfare
WW1 is typified by stalemate and a lack of movement
Autumn 1914 – Spring 1918
Attempts to force the Germans back after the Battles of Marne and Aisne ultimately failed and both sides “dug in”
WW1 was the first fully mechanized war
Heavy artillery, shells and machine guns meant more devastating injuries than ever before
Focused on a slow wearing down of opponents
Both sides dug elaborate trench systems opposing each other along the front
Trenches were protected from assault by barbed wire
Small, improvised trenches of the first few months developed into complex systems

Systems were often 3 parallel lines interconnected by communication trenches

Trenches were usually 12 ft deep in a zigzagged pattern
Birdseye View
Trenches were lined with sandbags for protection
Between the trench systems was “No Man’s Land”
Men were cautioned against peering over trenches
Men went “over the top” into No Man’s Land to attack enemy lines – incredibly dangerous
Death was constant – over 1/3 of men killed in WW1 died in trenches (battle and disease)
Men often hadn’t washed in weeks
Cess pools were overflowing
Lingering poisonous gas, rotting sandbags, stagnant mud, cigarette smoke – and of course, the smell of rotting bodies of men and rats, buried in the mud
Life in the Trenches
Trenches were a breeding ground for lice and rats as large as small cats – brown rats were feared
Soldiers tried to burn their uniforms to get rid of the lice
Lice caused Trench Fever – a disease beginning with severe pain, then high fever – could last 12 weeks
Frogs, slugs and horned beetles also thrived in the trenches
Trenches filled with sea water, forcing soldiers to stand knee deep in water for days at a time
Many soldiers suffered from trench foot – an inflammation like frostbite – often soldiers lost their foot
Dry socks were a luxury which could prevent trench foot – unfortunately keeping feet dry was rarely an option
Trench Foot
Sleep was very difficult
Soldiers were under constant stress
Many Canadian soldiers were in the trenches for 48 hours at a time – there was not enough relief
Shell shock was the result of stress, exhaustion and nonstop warfare – soldiers suffered nervous breakdowns and were unable to fight
Psychological Problems
Full transcript