Aims: Understand how trench warfare developed during the First World War Examine the challenges facing soldiers in the trenches.
Winter 1914 Despite a hectic few months with high casualties the war had reached a ‘stalemate’ – no one was wining. With winter approaching it would be impossible to fight large scale battles on flat land. Both sides dug trenches to defend themselves during the winter months. Soon a line of trenches stretched from the English Channel through Belgium and France to the Swiss border in the south. This line of trenches became known as the WESTERN FRONT.
Life in the Trenches Daily Routine Fear of Going Into Battle Rats Monotonous Diet Lice Weather
PLANNING Select a location for an attack TROOP PREPARATION Build up troops and supplies at the chosen location. OVER THE TOP At ‘zero hour’ soldiers would climb out of the trenches and cross No Man’s Land NIGHT BEFORE AN ATTACK Cut gaps in the barbed wire ARTILLERY BOMBARDMENT Shell enemy trenches in the days before the attack to destroy trenches, barbed wire and kill enemy soldiers. Use aeroplanes to spot enemy artillery
The Aftermath of Battle Field dressing stations behind the front line patched up small wounds. Mobile field hospitals dealt with more serious cases. Those badly injured were sent to base hospitals for treatment or perhaps back home to ‘Blighty’. The end result was usually ‘stalemate’. Neither side making any significant gains but suffering huge losses of men.
The Reality of Trench Warfare Both sides believed that the only way to achieve a victory was to carry out a ‘War of Attrition’. They would keep attacking the enemy and inflict such heavy casualties that they would eventually ‘wear them down’ and win the war. Generals planned major attacks on the enemy’s trenches in order to achieve this. This was known as ‘a big push’.