WWI The Trenches Of World War One
Map Of The Western Front WW I
World War I The Western Front
From 1914 until 1918, the world was at war; The Great War, as it was known at the time, was the most horrific and bloodiest war that the world had ever witnessed. Millions of young men were wounded or lost their lives fighting in the name of their countries.
The Western Front, which stretched over 400 miles from the North sea at Belgium to the French border with Switzerland became the main focal point of the war after both sides dug themselves into trenches.
Trench warfare changed peoples thinking of the war, before the soldiers dug themselves in, it was thought that the war would be over quickly and that the soldiers would be back at home with their families by Christmas.
A war fought in trenches meant that it was extremely difficult to make progress in battle, taking ground from an enemy who were dug in would be almost impossible because as soon as there was any sign of attack from an enemy trench evasive action was immediate and effective. Machine gun fire, heavy shelling and counter attack meant that any of the attacking forces rarely made any progress.
WW I Alliances
Germany's Allies (The Central Powers)
Britains Allies (The Allied Powers)
The Austrian-Hungarian Empire
The Ottoman Empire
German Trenches WW 1
German Trenches WW I
German trenches were luxurious compared to the British trenches. German trenches were built for endurance and were well furnished for the soldiers who had bunk beds, furniture, cupboards, water tanks with faucets, electric lights, and doorbells.
WW I Trench Warfare
The soldiers who fought in the trenches of the war often said that it was the closest thing that man could create on earth that could compare to the damnation of Hell. Men living in cramped conditions with death, illness and disease all around them.
It is difficult to describe the smell that the soldiers endured from day to day in the trenches, it was a stagnant bitter cocktail with many sources that some said was the true smell of death.
Rotting corpses from soldiers who had fallen in battle, mixed with the acrid cordite from shell and gunfire. The soldiers latrines or toilets were open pits offering an aroma of raw fresh human waste; Cooking smells from the trench kitchens, rather than improve the smell mixed in with the other sources and added to the putrid stench. Men smoking and going unwashed for many days at a time also contributed.
It was a smell that the men who survived the trenches would never ever forget.
Trench Foot WW 1
Strange deaths of WW 1
Some Western Front soldiers suffered fatal internal injuries or heart failure caused by shell percussion. They were found dead without any bleeding or obvious wounds.
World War One Conditions In The Trenches
Rain was another enemy, rain turned the trenches into mud holes, the men fighting in the trenches had their feet constantly in the mud or in the muddy puddles it became a major problem for them, so much so that many of them began to show symptoms of Trench foot, a debilitating infection that could result and often did result in amputation of toes or even the whole foot.
Disease was rife in the trenches too, rats and lice were epidemic and aided the spread of disease and infection, house flies, horse flies wasps and bees were just some of the many flying insects that soldiers had to cope with and of course there were slugs, snails, maggots and other creatures sharing living space with the soldiers.
Explosions and gunfire, screams from wounded and dying men and watching friends and fellow soldiers killed on a daily basis also took a mental toll on many of the young men, shell shock became another problem for the fighting soldiers, constant tiredness, dizzy spells, lack of concentration and sever depression were just some of the symptoms of shell shock which if left unnoticed would eventually turn into a full mental breakdown.
Soldiers suffering from shell shock would be removed from the front line and sent to a hospital in the UK, most never made a full recovery before the war ended and were given an honorary discharge from the army on medical grounds.
Canadian Soldiers "Going Over The Top" WW 1
Heavy Artillery Fact
Cannons and artillery were often extremely loud. In 1917, the explosives used to destroy a bridge in France could be be heard over 130 miles away in London.
WWI Battle Of The Somme
WW I Trench Warare Fact
The greatest single loss of life in the history of the British army occurred during the Battle of Somme, when the British suffered 60,000 casualties in one day. More British men were killed in that one WWI battle than the U.S. lost from all of its armed forces
Fighting In The Trenches Of World War One
No matter which side that you were fighting on in the trenches you always knew when there was going to be an attack from enemy lines and that you would have some time to prepare for it coming.
The attacking forces would start with a heavy bombardment of artillery fire for at least an hour, which was to try to break down the enemy defense, although it rarely worked out that way, The attacking soldiers would then be ordered to "Go over the top," climb out of the trenches and march toward enemy lines with bayonets fixed to their guns.
As the soldiers marched toward the enemy trenches another bombardment of heavy artillery would follow to try and hamper the enemy from fighting back.
The problem was though that the heavy artillery fire rarely broke down the enemy defenses and really only served to give the enemy warning that an attack was underway.
When the artillery fire stopped, The defending soldiers would emerge from their trenches and open fire on the attacking units, this more often than not ended in a bloodbath for the attacking forces who would be forced back to their own trenches.
Flanders Field Cemetery And War Memorial
Almost eleven percent of the population of France was killed or wounded during The Great War. About 116,000 Americans were killed, even though the US was only in the war for about 7 months.
Trench Warfare WW 1
World War One was a horrific tragedy that left its mark on the world, when the war ended in 1918, a whole generation of young men had been lost, and the land was scarred forever by the heavy bombardments.
Young men fought and young men died in the trenches whether from gunshot, shrapnel from artillery fire, illness disease or infection and young men were wounded in battle and had to go through the rest of their lives with missing limbs.
The world leaders agreed that a lesson had been learned about the futility of war and that a war on this scale should never be allowed to happen again.
Although the world leaders were resolute on world peace war broke out again just 21 years later in 1939.
Questions & Answers
© 2013 James Paterson