Presentation on theme: "Trench Warfare World War One Total War/Modern Warfare."— Presentation transcript:
Trench Warfare World War One Total War/Modern Warfare
Left Side Activities Ms. Barben will have some planned activities that she wants everyone to do. Others will be your choice.
War Is HELL !!
Real life in the trenches was MISERABLE
If you survived the fighting and didn’t get shell shock THEN there was….
This WAS a beautiful forest!
Sacrifices in War
The reality of ‘going over the top’ was very different!
Boredom, daily duties, grinding routine and more waiting. Then there were moments of sheer TERROR.
A Multi-Front War
By Miss Boughey
The Western Front
Mud by Gilbert Rogers Questions: Respond on your Left Side. 1.What does the painting show? 2.Look at the colours the artist has used. How do they make you feel? 3.What do you notice about the colour of the soldier’s uniform? 4. Look at the type of paint the artist has used. Does it make the picture look realistic or not? 5. Where do you think the artist was when he painted this picture?
This picture shows Canadian machine gunners on Vimy Ridge during the 1917 Battle of Arras What do you think might be happening around the soldier?
On your Left Side: As Ms. Barben goes over the design of the trenches, you are to: –Sketch out a diagram of how the trenches were set up and label the key aspects. Then you will turn to your partner and double-check when we finish this section
Trench Warfare: Reasons It Developed Developed due to the machine gun Traditional military charges on open land no longer worked; thousands gunned down Needed protection from the machine gun fire, so they dug the trenches Development of modern warfare
Trenches and Shovels At the beginning of the war, the British army owned 2500 shovels. By the end of the war, the British army owned over 10.5 million shovels. All of this was due to the development and reliance on trench warfare. By the end of the war, both sides had dug 15,000 miles of trenches. That is the equivalent of digging across the United State five times.
Soldiers digging trenches while protected against gas attacks
Trenches Were not new…used in ancient and medieval times and during the American Civil War But trenches was not used as the main source of fighting until World War One It was at the Battle of the Marne that the Germans were the first to dig trenches to find protection from the pursing British forces. By the end of 1914, two lines of trenches reach across 500 miles from Switzerland to the North Sea.
Trench WarfareTrench Warfare – type of fighting during World War I in which both sides dug trenches protected by mines and barbed wire Trench Warfare Cross-section of a front-line trench
Germany was going to have to fight a long war on 2 fronts. Realizing this, the German command sent thousands of troops from France to aid its forces in the east. Meanwhile, the war on the Western Front settled into a stalemate. By early 1915, opposing armies on the Western Front had dug miles of parallel trenches to protect themselves from enemy fire. This set the stage for what became known as trench warfare. The German commander, General Erich von Falkenhayn, decided that his troops must at all costs hold onto those parts of France and Belgium that Germany still occupied.
War of Attrition What was the War of Attrition? –It was a war based on wearing the other side down by constant attacks and heavy losses. Where did this war take place? –Europe When did it take place? –1916 Why was it called this? –It was called war of attrition because they lost millions of people. What was the significance of the war? –It’s what WWI turned into after losing all those men, due to the ongoing attacks.
General Erich von Falkenhayn ordered his men to dig trenches that would provide them with protection from the advancing French and British troops. The Allies soon realized that they could not break through this line and they also began to dig trenches. After a few months these trenches had spread from the North Sea to the Swiss Frontier. As the Germans were the first to decide where to stand fast and dig, they had been able to choose the best places to build their trenches. The possession of the higher ground not only gave the Germans a tactical advantage, but it forced the British and French to live in the worst conditions. Most of this area was rarely a few feet above sea level. As soon as soldiers began to dig down they would invariably find water two or three feet below the surface. Water-logged trenches were a constant problem for soldiers on the Western Front.
How they built the trenches Built all along the Western Front miles of trenches Also used in Battle of Galliopoli; however the design was different—much more shallow and little space in no-man’s land Dug several trenches; each serving a different purpose Used barbed wire to protect the top as an obstacle for charging men to gain entrance into the trench
Building of Trenches
Anatomy of a Trench Typically reached 10 feet deep, so soldiers could walk around without being seen by the enemy. In areas where trenches were more shallow, a careless soldier could let his head rise above the top for enemy snipers to target. Trenches had duckboards, or wooden planks at the bottom, which kept feet dry and out of the mud.
Anatomy of a Trench Trenches contained saps, short cul-de- sacs dug forward and connected to the front line trench by a little tunnel. Each night, two guards crawled out to the sap and sat for hours. They listened for sounds from the enemy’s line or any movement or noise that could signal attack preparations.
Trench Warfare in France
Building of Trenches
Anatomy of a Trench Tiny rooms, called dugouts, were tunneled sideways into the dirt. Officers slept in dugouts which offered shelter from wind and rain. The Germans built superior dugouts, because they planned on maintaining their position for a long time. Their dugouts were up to 30 feet below ground lined with bunkers of concrete, and installed electric lights, wallpaper, carpet, and running water. The British and French constructed simple trenches, because they planned to push back the Germans and liberate Belgium. Their dugouts held bunks and tables, but the roofs of corrugated iron did not keep out the rain.
Building of Trenches
TRENCH DESIGN Frontline trenches were usually about seven feet deep and six feet wide. The front of the trench was known as the parapet. The top two or three feet of the parapet and the parados (the rear side of the trench) would consist of a thick line of sandbags to absorb any bullets or shell fragments. In a trench of this depth it was impossible to see over the top, so a two or three-foot ledge known as a fire-step, was added. Duck-boards were also placed at the bottom of the trenches to protect soldiers from problems such as trench foot. Soldiers also made dugouts and funk holes in the side of the trenches to give them some protection from the weather and enemy fire.
TRENCH EXTENSIONS The front-line trenches were also protected by barbed-wire entanglements & machine-gun posts. Short trenches called saps were dug from the front-trench into No-Man's Land. The sap-head, usually about 30 yards forward of the front-line, were then used as listening posts. Small groups of soldiers were sent to the sap-head & were given the task of finding out about the enemy. This included discovering information about enemy patrols, wiring parties, or sniper positions. After a heavy bombardment soldiers would be ordered to seize any new craters in No Man's Land which could then be used as listening posts. Front-line trenches were not dug in straight lines. Otherwise, if the enemy had a successive offensive, and got into your trenches, they could shoot straight along the line. The French tended to build zigzag trenches. However, the British Army preferred a system where each trench was dug with alternate fire- bays and traverses. Whereas fire-bays were straight sections of trenches, traverses were built at angles. This limited the effect of enfilade fire or shell-burst.
Types of Trenches Support or Cover Trenches: behind the front line about 30 yards. Soldiers were stationed there in case the enemy broke through the front line. Behind the Support Trenches, were the Reserve Trenches: used to relay messages and to transport reinforcements, ammo, and food supplies during times of battle through Communication Trenches: joined all three trench lines
Most Frequented Trenches Given names by the Germans like: o Hansa Weg o Munster Gasse Given names by the British soldiers like: o The Strand o New Bond Street Some trenches grew so complete that soldiers needed guides to maneuver through the trenches Soldiers, even whole units, easily lost their way in the maze of dead ends.
BARBED WIRE Trenches on the Western Front were protected by thick barbed-wire entanglements. Being a member of a wiring party was one of the most unpopular duties experienced by soldiers. This involved carrying out 6 ft. steel pickets and rolls of wire. The pickets were knocked into place by muffled mallets. When fastened to the pickets, the wire was pulled out to make what was known as an apron. Barbed-wire was usually placed far enough from the trenches to prevent the enemy from approaching close enough to lob grenades in. Sometimes barbed-wire entanglements were set up in order to channel attacking infantry into machine-gun fire. Barbed-wire entanglements were virtually impassable. Before a major offensive soldiers were sent out to cut a path with wire-cutters. Another tactic was to place a Bangalore Torpedo (a long pipe filled with explosive) and detonate it under the wire.
Heavy bombardment was necessary to destroy the barbed-wire. However, this always removed the crucial element of surprise. Many soldiers disputed the fact that shelling was capable of creating a gap in the wire. Arthur Coppard, who observed attempts to destroy barbed-wire entanglements at the Somme remarked: "Who told them that artillery fire would pound such wire to pieces, making it possible to get through? Any Tommy could have told them that shell fire lifts wire up and drops it down, often in a worse tangle than before." Drawings made by an allied spy of German barbed-wire
Private Victor Wheeler, a Canadian soldier, was involved in digging some of the Allies first trenches.CanadianAllies With pick and shovel we dug trenches through beautiful fields of grain, fully realising what damage we were doing to the farmers' hopes of reaping small harvests that would enable them to stem hunger during the coming winter. The patriarch with his ox- drawn plough, the matronly gleaner, and the young woman gathering grass and leaves, roots and truffles, stood arms akimbo, wordlessly, helplessly, hopelessly watching. The depressing effect on the morale of the men - to many of whom raising grain on the Western prairie also meant their livelihood - could not be easily dismissed.
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.
Types of Soldier Engineers (or Sappers) repaired bridges and roads. Dug trenches.Engineers (or Sappers) repaired bridges and roads. Dug trenches. Artillery Soldiers manned big guns.Artillery Soldiers manned big guns. Signallers ran telephone lines to carry messages to trenches.Signallers ran telephone lines to carry messages to trenches. Staff Officers assisted the Generals in planning and organising.Staff Officers assisted the Generals in planning and organising. Generals usually lived in large mansions in the French countryside. Rarely went to the Front Line to see conditions.Generals usually lived in large mansions in the French countryside. Rarely went to the Front Line to see conditions.
An aerial photograph of the opposing trenches and no-man's land in Artois, France, July 22, German trenches are at the right and bottom, British trenches are at the top left. The vertical line to the left of centre indicates the course of a pre-war road.
View from the air TODAY of trenches dug during WWI
Fighting Trench Warfare Goal was to take the opponent’s trench— very hard to do; often ended in stalemate and high casualties Would go over the top and charge across no-man’s land under the cover of rolling artillery barrages, poison gas, behind tanks, facing machine gun fire Almost all the new weapons that developed were to help break the trenches
Western FrontWestern Front – over 400 miles of trenches across Belgium and France · Most offenses resulted in heavy casualties but gained little territory.
Germany 1,935,000 Russia 1,700,000 France 1,368,000 Austria-Hungary 1,200,000 British Empire 942,135 Ottoman Empire 725,000 Italy 680,000 Romania 300,000 United States 116,516 Bulgaria 87,495 Belgium 45,550 Serbia 45,000 Greece 23,098 Portugal 8,145 Montenegro 3,000 Japan 1,344 Military Casualties in World War I:
How to Survive in the Trenches According to General Sir Edwin Alderson “Do not expose your heads, and do not look around corners, unless for a purpose…to lose your life without military necessity is to deprive the State of good soldiers…a soldier who takes unnecessary risks is not playing the game, and the man who does so is stupid..If you put you head over the parapet without orders, they will hit that head..When you are shelled, sit low and tight. This is easy advice, for there is nothing else to do. If you get out you will only get it worse…The Germans do not like the bayonet…If they get up to you, or if you get up to them, go right in with the bayonet…”
The Trench Cycle 70 days in the front line 30 days in a nearby support trench 120 days in a reserve trench 70 days spent at rest The amount of leave varied with up to 2 weeks a year.
'The Rear-Guard' by Siegfried Sassoon Groping along the tunnel, step by step, He winked his prying torch with patching glare From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air. Tins, boxes, bottles, shapes too vague to know, A mirror smashed, the mattress from a bed; 5 And he, exploring fifty feet below The rosy gloom of battle overhead. Tripping, he grabbed the wall; saw someone lie Humped at his feet, half-hidden by a rug, And stooped to give the sleeper's arm a tug. 10 "I'm looking for headquarters." No reply. "God blast your neck!" (For days he'd had no sleep.) "Get up and guide me through this stinking place." Savage, he kicked a soft, unanswering heap, And flashed his beam across the livid face 15 Terribly glaring up, whose eyes yet wore Agony dying hard ten days before; And fists of fingers clutched a blackening wound. Alone he staggered on until he found Dawn's ghost that filtered down a shafted stair 20 To the dazed, muttering creatures underground Who hear the boom of shells in muffled sound. At last, with sweat of horror in his hair, He climbed through darkness to the twilight air, Unloading hell behind him step by step. 1. Where is the rear-guard? What is going on above him? 2. Describe the conditions in the tunnel/trench. Pick out some of the words or phrases which help describe the tunnel. 3. The rear-guard meets a sleeper in the tunnel. What does he look like? What do you think has happened to him? 4. At the end of the poem the rear guard leaves the tunnel. What is the tunnel compared with in the last line? This last line uses imagery to make a powerful point. What kind of imagery is this? 5. What do you predict happens to the rear guard next? 6. Visualize the rear guard, the tunnel, the war itself, etc. Create an illustration or other form of visual art that represents this poem.
Fear and Anticipation As you sit in the trench, what do you fear? What dangers do you face? How are you preparing, physically and mentally to face those dangers? How does it feel to be in that position?
Daily Life in Trenches
Daily Life in the Trenches Start with morning “Stand To”-an hour before dawn everyone is woken up and ordered to climb up on the fire step to guard against a dawn raid. Then “Morning Hate”-machine gun fire, shelling, small arms fire into the mist to ensure their safety at dawn.
What should be the caption for this photo?
Daily Life in the Trenches
Daily Life in Trenches Then rum may be issued to some men. Time to clean the rifles & weapons inspections by officers Breakfast would be served-unofficial truce between both sides. Another inspection by company commander Assign daily chores: refilling sandbags, repair duckboards, drain the trenches, clean out the latrines After chores, read, write letters home, nap, & many wrote poetry or songs.
French soldiers firing over their own dead
Daily Life in Trenches At dusk, repeat of morning “Stand To”. Guard against surprise attack. Under the cover of darkness, men would be sent to the rear lines to fetch rations & water. Other men would do sentry duty on the fire step alternating every two hours. Patrols would be sent out into no-mans land. Relieving of men on the front lines happened at night as well.
There has been constant shelling for 3 days. How does your head feel? Describe the destruction you expect to see around you the next morning. Do you expect to die? How do you cope with that feeling? What did the enemy hope to gain by this constant shelling? First bombardment
Life in the Trenches James Lovegrave described life in the trenches as “Life in the trenches was hell on earth. Lice, rats, trench foot, trench mouth, where gums rot and you lose your teeth. And of course dead bodies everywhere.”
No smiling and relaxed faces… No clean uniforms… Their equipment is scattered everywhere… Boredom and sleep are obvious…
Along the whole line, trench life involved a never-ending struggle against water and mud. Duck-boards were placed at the bottom of the trenches to protect soldiers from problems such as trench foot. Much of the land where the trenches were dug was either clay or sand. The water could not pass through the clay and because the sand was on top, the trenches became waterlogged when it rained. The trenches were hard to dig and kept on collapsing in the waterlogged sand. As well as trenches the shells from the guns and bombs made big craters in the ground. The rain filled up the craters and then poured into the trenches. Officers walking through a flooded communication trench.
The soldiers at the front need more rest. While in the trenches the water is over our knees most of the time. The war is going to last some time yet, and might be another twelve months before it is over. The war has only just begun and its going to be a war of exhaustion. After the regular armies have done their work it means that all the young lads at home being trained and disciplined and will take our place in the field. The sooner people understand this, the better, it will be for the nation.---Private H. F. Leppard in a letter to his mother on December 19th, 1914 We have just come out of the trenches after being in for six days and up to our waists in water. While we were in the trenches one of the Germans came over to our trench for a cigarette and then back again, and he was not fired at. We and the Germans started walking about in the open between the two trenches, repairing them, and there was no firing at all. I think they are all getting fed up with it.---Private Stanley Terry in a letter to his family in November, 1915
Soldiers were expected to carry all of their equipment with them at all times. They were supposed to keep it clean and in good condition – they were British after all.
How the uniform and equipment changed after just three weeks in the trenches…
Clothing The Teddy Bear: army jerkin made from goat- skin. It is given out in the winter of Necklet: a silk-lined collar which is supposed to stop a large, speeding bullet from taking your head off The British Warm: an overcoat that is knee- length and tight at the waist. Only for officers and troops on horseback The Brodie: a British steel helmet invented in Feb 1916 for snipers. Some officers start to buy them for themselves. Body Armour: The Dayfield is the best known…it is made from steel plates sewn into a cloth shirt and usually worn under the army uniform. It is expensive and usually only officers can afford them.
Clothing British Army Armour: Has curved metal plates for the chest and back. It is meant to stop snipers’ bullets. But the metal is very thin and curves in the middle, so any bullet hitting in the center of the armour will be directed into you and not away from you. Trench Coats: Germans started using them first. It helps keep them warm and protect from the rain. Bullet-Proof Bibles: Pocket-sized copies of the New Testament being bought and sent by British mothers to their sons. There are stories that these little Bibles have stopped rifle bullets. Tights: Many Scottish soldiers wear kilts. They started to wear tights to protect their legs from poison gas.
Life in the Trenches “There were about 20 men. They walked like plaster statues. Their faces stared at us like those of shrunken mummies, and their eyes seemed so huge that one saw nothing but eyes. Those eyes, which had not seen sleep for four days and nights showed the vision of death. Was this the dream of glory that I had when I volunteered to fight?”
Dealing with boredom and cramped living quarters What do you do to keep from getting bored? Your leg has a cramp. How do you get rid of it? The soldier next to you keeps sneezing and coughing. What can you do to keep from getting sick? Your uniform is wet. How do you get more comfortable?
Going Over the Top Phrase given to the soldiers when it was time to try to take the opposing trench Means running across no-man’s land About 8 out of every 10 soldiers who went over the top would die
We started away just after dawn from our camp and I think it was about an hour later that we encountered the enemy. They were on the opposite side of the valley and as we came over the brow of the hill they opened on us with rifle fire and shrapnel from about 900 yards. We lost three officers and about 100 men killed and wounded in that half hour. I do not want any more days like that one. (this section censored) Anyway we drove the Germans back and held them there for eight days. I cannot tell you all I should like to, as it would never reach you. Private James Mitchell in a letter to his father on October 17th, 1914.
Soldiers in an exposed trench, bracing for an incoming attack As captain, it’s your job to reassure your men, to give them confidence and make them want to continue to fight. How do you do this? You are feeling homesick and want to write home. What do you write? Do you spare them any details?
Over the Top
I have not written to you for a long time, but I have thought of you … It is, indeed, not so simple a matter to write from the war, really from the war; and what you read … in the papers usually lack of understanding that does not allow a man to get hold of the war, to breathe it in although he is living in the midst of it. The further I penetrate its true inwardness the more I see the hopelessness of making it comprehensive for those who only understand life in the terms of peacetime, and apply these same ideas to war in spite of themselves. They only think that they understand it. It is as if fishes living in water would have a clear conception of what living in the air is like. When one is hauled out on to dry land and dies in the air, then he will know something about it. So it is with the war. Feeling deeply about it, one becomes less able to talk about it every day. Not because one understands it less each day, but because one grasps it better. But it is a silent teacher, and he who learns becomes silent too. Rudolf Binding, letter (April, 1915)
Few soldiers ever made it to the other side’s trenches.
No Man’s Land
Trench Warfare “No Man’s Land”
No-Man’s Land Term used by the soldiers to describe the ground between the 2 opposing trenches Width could vary from 500 yards to as narrow as 7 yards; the average was 250 yards Contained a lot of barbed wire; some places 100 ft deep If there had been a lot of fighting, no-man’s land was covered with abandoned military equipment, the rotting corpses, and total annihilation of the land with shell holes At the Battle of Somme, 200,000 men were left to rot in No-Mans Land
NO MAN’S LAND No Man's Land is the term used by soldiers to describe the ground between the two opposing trenches. Its width along the Western Front could vary a great deal. The average distance in most sectors was about 250 yards (230 meters). However, at Guillemont it was only 50 yards (46 meters) whereas at Cambrai it was over 500 yards (460 meters). The narrowest gap was at Zonnebeke where British and German soldiers were only about seven yards apart. No Man's Land contained a considerable amount of barbed wire. In the areas most likely to be attacked, there were ten belts of barbed wire just before the front-line trenches. In some places the wire was more than a 100 feet (30 meters) deep. If the area had seen a lot of action No Man's Land would be full of broken and abandoned military equipment. After an attack No Man's Land would also contain a large number of bodies. Advances across No Man’s Land were always very difficult. Not only did the soldiers have to avoid being shot or blown-up, they also had to cope with barbed wire and water-filled, shell- holes.
Barbed wire strung out over No Man’s Land slowed speed of the advance of the attacking troops At times electrified cable ran thru the mass of barbed wire-had to be cut first!!
Soldiers were only occasionally involved in a full-scale attack across No Man's Land. However, men were sometimes ordered into No Man's Land to obtain information about the enemy. When an artillery shell had landed just in front of an enemy trench, soldiers were often ordered to take control of the shell-hole and to try and spy on the enemy. Small patrols were also sent out to obtain information about the enemy. These patrols would go out at night. They would have to crawl forward on their stomachs in an attempt to get close enough to find out what the enemy was up to. If possible, they would try and capture a sentry and bring him back for interrogation. To stop British night patrols the Germans used a light- shell rocket. Suspended from a small parachute, the flare blazed brightly for a minute giving the defending troops a chance to kill the soldiers who had advanced into No Man's Land.
No Man’s Land
All with the regular sound of shells bursting nearby. This is a small piece of ‘no mans land’ in 2002, complete with shell holes. The trees were not there in 1915, but the mud was!
Here are descriptions by writers who fought in the war: Beyond the wire was 'no-man's land', the space between the Allied and the German trenches. I t could be a kilometre wide or more; in some places it was less than 30 metres. No-man's land was pitted with shell holes and littered with unexploded shells, rusting rifles, rotting bodies and the rats that fed on them. At night, patrols were sent out of the trenches, across no-man's land, to try to find out the strength of the enemy in the opposite trenches. That was why, as Wolff describes, the enemy would fire star shells (timed to explode in the air like giant, long- lasting fireworks) to light up no-man's land so that machine- gunners could destroy the patrols.
Extract from "Death of a hero" by Richard Adlington ( ) The days passed into weeks, the weeks into months. He moved throu-h impressions like a man hallucinated. And every incident seemed to beat on his brain Death, Death, Death. All the decay and death of battlefields entered his blood and seemed to poison him. He lived among smashed bodies and human remains in an infernal cemetery If he scratched his stick idly and nervously in the side of a trench, he pulled out human ribs. He ordered a new latrine to be dug out from the trench, and thrice the, digging had to be abandoned because they came upon terrible black masses of decomposing bodies.
No Man’s Land
At dawn -one morning when it was misty he walked over the top of Hill 91. where probably nobody had been by day since its capture. The heavy mist brooded about him in a strange stillness. Scarcely a sound on their immediate front, though from north and south came the vibration of furious drum-fire. The ground was a desert of shell-holes and torn rusty wire, and every-where lay skeletons in steel helmets, still clothed in the rags of sodden khaki or field grey. Here a fleshless hand still clutched a broken rusty rifle; there a gaping, decaying boot showed the thin, knotty foot-bones. He came on a skeleton violently dismembered by a shell explosion, the skull was split open and the teeth lay scattered on the bare chalk; the force of the explosion had driven coins and a metal pencil ri-ht into the hip-bones and femurs. In a concreted pill-box three German skeletons lay across their machine- gun with its silent nozzle still pointing at the loop-hole. They had been attacked from the rear with phosphorus grenades, which burn their way into the flesh, and for which there is no possible remedy. A shrunken leather strap still held a battered wrist- watch on a fleshless wrist-bone. Alone in the white curling mist. drifting slowly past like wraiths of the slain, with the far-off thunder of drum-fire beating the air, Winterboume stood in frozen silence and contemplated the last achievements of civilised men.
No Man’s Land
Otto Dix---German soldier and painter
I have an old platoon roll before me; three pages of names, numbers, trades, next-of-kin, religions, rifle numbers, and so forth. Faces come back out of the past to answer to these barren details, the face of this man dead, of that vanished for ever. Here and there rise memories of their habits, their nicknames, the look of one as he spoke to you, the attitude of another shivering in the night air, as he leaned over the parapet, watching with tired bloodshot eyes. Some of the faces have disappeared. did I know you? I censored your letters, casually, hurriedly avoiding your personal messages, your poignant hopes. Guy Chapman account of his experiences in 1930s
Coping With Songs and Jokes Don’t Worry When you are a soldier you can be in one of two places: A dangerous place or a safe place. If you’re in a safe place…don’t worry. If you’re in a dangerous place you can be one of two things: One is wounded and the other is not. If you’re not wounded…don’t worry. If you are wounded it is dangerous or slight. If it’s slight…don’t worry. If it’s dangerous, then one of two things will happen: You’ll die or you’ll recover. If you recover…don’t worry. If you die…you can’t worry. In these circumstances a soldier never worries.
Coping with Songs and Jokes 1914 Version: Though your heart may ache a while…never mind. Though your face may lose its smile…never mind. For there’s sunshine after rain And then gladness follows pain, You’ll be happy once again…never mind Version: If you’re hung up on barbed wire…never mind. If your sleeping place is damp…never mind. If you wake up with a cramp…never mind. If your trench should fall in some. Fill your cars and make you dumb. While the sergeant drinks your rum…never mind.
British Comic Song about German Shells I want to go home I want to go home, I want to go home. I don’t want to go in the trenches no more, Where whizz-bangs and shrapnel they whistle and roar. Take me over the sea, where the Germans can’t get at me. Oh my, I don’t want to die, I want to go home.
On your Left Side: With your partner, come up with your own joke on an aspect of Trench Life.
Mess Time in the Trenches
Rotten Rations Typical Diet for a British Soldier in 1914: 1 ¼ lb of meat 4 ounces of bacon 3 ounces of cheese 1 ¼ lb of bread ½ ounce of salt 8 ounces of fresh vegetables= 1/36 ounces of pepper 3 ounces of sugar 5/8 ounces of tea 1/20 ounces of mustard ¼ ounces of tobacco
Mess Time or Food in the Trenches As the war went on, due to rationing & problems transporting food, there were more food issues The bulk of the diet was “Bully Beef” (canned corned beef), Bread, & Biscuits Bread was made out of dried ground turnips due to flour shortages; took 8 days to reach the front lines & would be stale Main food became pea soup with a few lumps of horsemeat Food was prepared in two huge vats, so the tea would taste of vegetables, etc.. Due to conditions, food in the front lines usually was served cold
Food in the Trenches Soldier’s water had chloride of lime added to kills the germs But the chloride of lime made the water taste terrible, even when it was boiled and used to make a cup of tea. It was like drinking your swimming pool water.
Food in the Trenches Soldiers took comfort where they could from the war’s less grim aspects. The humor of the troops helped to keep them sane. Army food was a particular target for jokes. Sausages were known as “Barkers” because supposedly they were high in dog-meat content. Cheese was called “Bung” because it caused constipation.
Food in the Trenches Soldiers were also given bully beef, like corned beef, to which they liked to add raw onions. Sometimes they have to eat this with hard biscuits. Ernest Parker of the 10 th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry wrote: “Army food was monotonous and in the trenches bully beef and bread, often without butter or jam, was the usual meal. Teenagers like myself were always hungry. Alas, when we needed food most it sometimes did not arrive at all. It was not pleasant to spend twenty-four hours or more in the front line with nothing to eat. Sometimes, when drinking water did not arrive, we had to boil water from shell holes, and this may account for the crop of boils and diarrheas that plagued us.”
First World War.com - Vintage Video - British Troops Receiving Rations, 1914First World War.com - Vintage Video - British Troops Receiving Rations, 1914
Food: Joke Recipe from the Soldiers Maconochie Hotpot: 1. Open one tin of Maconchie rations. 2. Warm gently until the greasy oil floats to the top. Remove this by blotting it with a piece of flannel. 3. Remove the black lumps from the tin. These are potatoes. 4. Squeeze the greasy oil from the flannel into a frying pan and gently fry the potatoes. 5. Take two handfuls of dried vegetables (they look like any other dead leaves). Mix with water flavoured with chloride of lime and pat into a pancake. This should be gently fried after the potatoes. 6. Heat up the remains of the stew, then serve the potatoes and vegetables on a cold enamel plate.
1916 Joke Poem on Tin Plum and Apple Jam Fear A terror hangs over our heads. I scarcely dare to think Of the awful doom that each one dreads From which the bravest shrink. It’s not the crashing shrapnel shell It’s not the sniper’s shot, It’s not the machine gun’s burst of Hell. These matter not a jot. It’s a far worse thing than that, son. With which we have to grapple. It’s if we see another one More tin of Plum and Apple.
General Fears Constant fear of imminent death. Life expectancy of a 2 nd Lieutenant in the trenches was three months. Soldiers could be: Crushed by a collapsed trench; Ripped to shreds by shrapnel; Cut in half by machine gun fire; Gutted by a bayonet; Blown apart by highly explosive shells; Drowned in a shell hole; Bullet through the brain.
“Oh it’s a lovely war”-a Trench Song 'Oh it's a lovely war!' Up to your waist in water, up to your eyes in slush, using the kind of language that makes the sergeant blush, Who wouldn't join the army? That's what we all enquire. Don't we pity the poor civilian sitting by the fire. (Chorus) Oh, oh, oh it's a lovely war. Who wouldn't be a soldier, eh? Oh it's a shame to take the pay. As soon as reveille has gone we feel just as heavy as lead,
“Oh it’s a lovely war” Cont. but we never get up till the sergeant brings our breakfast up to bed. Oh, oh, oh, it's a lovely war. what do we want with eggs and ham when we've got plum and apple jam? Form fours. Right turn. How shall we spend the money we earn? Oh, oh, oh it's a lovely war. When does a soldier grumble? When does he make a fuss? No one is more contented in all the world than us. Oh it's a cushy life, boys, really we love it so: Once a fellow was sent on leave and simply refused to go. (Chorus)
Oh it’s a lovely war Cont. Come to the cookhouse door, boys, sniff the lovely stew. Who is it says the colonel gets better grub than you? Any complaints this morning? Do we complain? Not we. What's the matter with lumps of onion floating around the tea? (Chorus)
German Food Rations 1914: 1 ½ lbs of bread ¾ lb of fresh or frozen meat 25 grams of coffee ¾ ounce of salt 3 ¼ lb of potatoes ¾ ounce of sugar 2 cigars 2 cigarettes 10 ml of rum 250 ml of wine 500 ml of beer 1918: One tin of corned beef 10 biscuits 5 to 7 pints of army tea By the end of 1918 a meal was turnip stew served with chunks of turnip bread
Exposure to the elements
PROBLEM: When it rained the trenches flooded, resulting in a horrible medical condition called “trench foot”. Because of the moisture, the soldiers feet literally rot.
Lieutenant Bernard Pitt, letter to his parents (25th December, 1915) What is life like in the trenches, well, muddy, and cramped, and filthy. Everything gets covered with mud; you can't wash, for water has to be fetched for a mile. There is no room, and if you walk upright in many of the trenches, you run grave risks; and you sleep, huddled together, unable to stretch. All day long shells and rifle bullets go banging and whistling, and from dark to midnight the Huns fire rifle-grenades and machine-guns at us.
Heath Issues: Trench Foot An infection of the feet due to cold, wet, & unsanitary conditions Men stood for hours in waterlogged trenches without being able to remove wet socks or boots The feet would go numb, the skin turn red or blue If untreated, the trench foot would turn gangrenous and have to be amputated Between , over 20,000 British soldiers were treated for trench foot Only remedy was to dry feet & change socks several times a day Men also covered feet with grease from whale oil to make them water-resistant
“If you have never had trench feet described to you, I will tell you. Your feet swell to 2 to 3 times their normal size and go completely dead. You could stick a bayonet into them and not feel a thing. If you are fortunate enough not to lose your feet and the swelling begins to go down. It is then that the intolerable, indescribable agony begins. I have heard men cry and even scream with pain and many had to have their feet and legs amputated.”
At the age of 92, Arthur Savage was asked about his memories of life on the Western Front. My memories are of sheer terror and the horror of seeing men sobbing because they had trench foot that had turned gangrenous. They knew they were going to lose a leg. Memories of lice in your clothing driving you crazy. Filth and lack of privacy. Of huge rats that showed no fear of you as they stole your food rations. And cold deep wet mud everywhere. And of course, corpses. I'd never seen a dead body before I went to war. But in the trenches the dead are lying all around you. You could be talking to the fellow next to you when suddenly he'd be hit by a sniper and fall dead beside you. And there he's stay for days.Arthur SavageWestern Front
Health Issues: A Blighty Soldiers shot themselves in an attempt to end their time on the front lines Self-inflicted wounds became a capital offense; if found guilty, death by firing squad Usually blew off two of the toes; sometimes misjudged and lost the whole foot
Issue of the Blighty “One day I was in the trench and we’d been Under non-stop attack for days. Well, two Of the blokes with me shot themselves on Purpose to try and get sent home out of the War. One lad put a tin of bully beef on a Ledge in the trench and then placed his Hand behind it and fired his rifle through The tin thinking, I suppose, that the tin would Take the full force of the bullet and he would Only get a flesh wound. But he misjudged The power of a shot at such close range and Blew three of his fingers off.”
Issue of the Blighty “The other one said to me, “Chas, I am going home to my wife and kids. I’ll be some use to them as a cripple, but none at all dead! I am starving here, and so are they at home, we may as well starve together.” With that he fired a shot through his boot. When the medics got his boot off, two of his toes and a lot of foot had gone. But the injuring of oneself to get out was quite common.”
Trench Mouth Soldiers who had not brushed their teeth for days would suffer from trench mouth. The symptoms were bleeding gums, ulcers of the mouth and very bad breath
Shell-Shock & Stir-Crazy
Health Issues: Stir-Crazy and Shell Shock Shellshock-symptoms were tiredness, irritability, giddiness, lack of concentration, & headaches Eventually the men would suffer mental breakdowns-this was known as Stir Crazy Only way to recover was complete rest 80,000 men were diagnosed with shell shock Many others were not diagnosed in time & committed suicide in the trenches
Shell Shock and Stir Crazy Many of the British soldiers suffering from shell shock were sent to the Craiglockhart Hospital. Some of the most important poets of World War One were sent to Craiglockhart for shell shock and wrote their poetry there: Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Robert Graves Officially the British government claimed 80,000 soldiers suffered from shell shock, but more likely it was closer to 613, 047 cases.
Shell Shock Shell shock was the result of the stress and trauma of war. Soldiers would contract it by living in the frontline for a time and becoming unstable from being exposed to the constant shelling and general stress of war which magnified the horror of it. The effects of shell shock varied depending on the case, mostly it lead to extreme panic and losing control mentally. Eventually a soldier would not be able to concentrate at all and would lead to a complete mental breakdown. Some men would not respond to anything or anyone while in hospital except (for example) the word bomb or death. Others would be in constant spasm reenacting an experience such as ducking or hiding. Others would just become unable to control themselves as a result of the trauma. The condition would affect different men in different ways, but all the same it would affect almost everyone who lived long enough to go through it.
Shell Shock & Stir Crazy “It was while I was in this Field Hospital that I saw the first case of shell-shock. The enemy opened fire at dinnertime, as usual, with his big guns. As soon as the first shell came over, the shell-shock case went mad. He screamed and raved, and it took eight men to hold him down on the stretcher. With every shell he would go into a fit of screaming and fight to get away.” “It is heartbreaking to watch a shell-shock case. The terror is indescribable. The flesh on their faces shakes in fear, and their teeth continually chatter. Shell-shock was brought about in many ways---loss of sleep, continually heavy shell fire, the torment of the lice, irregular meals, nerves always on end, and the thought always in the man’s mind that the next minute was going to be his last.”
Stir-Crazy Experiences British Lieutenant Frederick Rees explained: “Last night a man had an attack of nerves. He picked up a box of bombs, climbed out of the trench and threw them about in no-man’s land. He was lucky not to be shot. Either side would have shot him if he had come near when he still had those bombs.” George Bucher, a German officer wrote” “After four days of bombardment, a very young soldier had had enough. He climbed out of the trench with two hand-grenades from which he had taken the safety pins. He told his comrades what he thought about war. He was going to run towards the British rifle fire and throw his grenades at them. He threatened to throw them at his comrades if they tried to stop him. They let him go…
Shellshock Experience Lieutenant A G May from the British army wrote: “The noise was impossible. Shells were bursting overhead. Near our front trench, I saw a couple of our lads who had gone goofy. It was pitiful. One of them welcomed me like a long-lost friend and asked me to give him his baby. I picked up a tin hat from the ground and gave it to him. He cradled the hat as if it were a child, smiling and laughing without a care in the world, even though shells were falling around us. I have no idea what happened to the poor chap but if he stayed there very long, he must have been killed. A few days later, I started to have uncontrollable jerking and shaking of my legs. I was quite upset because I was unable to stop. The doctor told me I had shellshock, but I did not believe this. Later I was told to go to a special hospital for shellshock victims.”
Shellshock Experiences A French soldier described: “ The noise of a slamming gate, a flaring gaslight, a train whistle, the barking of a dog, or some boyish prank is enough to set off my trembling. I went to a shop to do an errand for my wife. The crowd, the rustling silks, the color of the goods-everything was a delight to look on after the misery of the trenches. I was happy and chatted merrily like a schoolboy on holiday. All of a sudden I felt my strength was leaving me. I stopped talking. I felt a shiver in my back, I felt my cheeks going hollow. I began to stare and the trembling came on. In the tram, I feel the people are looking at me and that gives me a terrible feeling. I feel they are looking at me with pity. Some excellent woman offers me her seat. I am deeply touched; but they look at me and say nothing. What are they thinking of me?”
Shell Shock and Stir Crazy “I saw a sergeant-major convulsed like someone suffering from epilepsy. He was moaning horribly with blind terror in his eyes. He had to be strapped to a stretcher before he could be carried away. Soon afterwards I saw another soldier shaking in every limb, his mouth slobbered, and the two comrades could not hold him still. These badly shell-shocked boys clawed their mouths ceaselessly. Others sat in the field hospitals in a state of coma, dazed, as though deaf and dumb.”
On your Left Side: Today we call Shell-Shock, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. And since the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, it has become more common. Why do you think humans respond this way to war? Explain. Some people do not believe it to be a true medical problem. And this was an issue for the first Gulf War vets. What are your thoughts on this and explain why?
Frostbite Frostbite in the trenches often lead to losing toes or fingers. In the winter of , “anti-frostbite grease” is sent to the soldiers in one kilo tins. It looks like lard and is mostly pork fat. After 1915, the grease is made from whale oil, and sent out in rum jars. The soldiers don’t like the whale grease because of the terrible smell. Army orders said: “before going out on patrol in cold or wet weather, each man must be stripped and rubbed down with whale oil by an officer.” Most men refused to strip and most officers refused to rub.
1915 Cure for Frostbite Carry the sufferer to a room or place without a fire. Remove the clothes. Rub hard with a cloth soaked in water or snow. Hmm…does this sound like it worked?
In the summer months flies, attracted by unburied bodies and human waste, swarmed over wounds, into mouths and food. Lice and flea infestations, spread by rats and close contact, tormented soldiers with itchy bites. They also could make bits of discarded uniform move across the trench!
Flies On soldier of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) wrote home about the flies: “Some of them must have tin openers on their feet, they bite so hard.” Another British soldier complained: “In order to eat your food you have to wave your hand over it and then bite suddenly, otherwise a fly came with it. Any bit of food uncovered was blotted out of sight by flies in a couple of seconds.”
Health Issues: Lice The average British soldier had 20 lice crawling over his body. The record was 10, 428. Blotchy red bite marks all over the body that created a sour stale smell Used a lighted candle to burn the lice off the skins When they could, the men would bathe in huge vats of hot water while their clothes were deloused; but this did not work Within 2 to 3 hours, the remaining eggs in the clothes would hatch due to the body heat Frenzied scratching of the lice bites led to Trench Fever (pyrrexhia) that resulted in shooting pains in the shins and a very high fever 15% of all cases of sickness was due to lice issues
Lice are about the size of a sesame seed, about as long as a hyphen -. They have six legs with claws that they use to pull themselves along hair and clothing. They do not fly or jump. They take on the color of the surrounding background much like a chameleon, so they may be black, yellow, brown, whitish, or reddish.
Lice “One night, as we lay in bed after doing our two hours sentry-we did two hours on and two hours off-my friend Jock said ‘damn this, I cannot stand it any longer!’ He took off his tunic, his jersey, and his shirt. He put his shirt in the middle of the dug-out floor and put his jersey and tunic on again. As we sat up in bed watching the shirt he had taken off and put on the floor, it actually lifted; it was swarming with lice.”
Lice Bred in the seams of filthy clothes and caused the men to itch unceasingly. Even when clothes were deloused, the lice eggs remained hidden in the seams. The infected lice bites caused Trench Fever. It was not until 1918 that the doctors figured out the cause. Other parasites were the Nits, so the men would shave their heads to avoid them.
Lice and Trench Fever On the Western Front, strict measures were taken to prevent the outbreak of typhus Mobile laboratories, laundries, and delousing stations were set up Soldiers and prisoners of war were bathed, disinfected, and shaved Bodies and clothing were deloused---a process of involving steam treatment, fumigation, and rubbing with anti-lice powers Getting rid of lice in the soldiers’ underclothes became one of the daily rituals
Lice and Trench Fever Despite determined efforts and almost no outbreaks of typhus on the Western Front, another louse-borne disease known as Trench Fever developed It tormented and incapacitated more than one million soldiers It was a mild infection The irritation from the lice led to the soldiers trying to rid themselves of the infestation by stubbing their cigarette ends on the lice Trench fever causes a greater loss of manpower during the was than any other disease except for influenza
Lice and Typhus---Like in the Industrial Revolution Typhus is an acute infectious disease transmitted by lice It is prevalent in areas with overcrowding and poor hygiene It is also spread by the infected feces of the lice carrier Body lice live and lay their eggs in the warm clothes of humans---preferring wool or cotton to silk They suck the blood of the typhus carrying person and then jump to another where they then die from the typhus, but not before infecting another person
Lice and Typhus It is possible to get infected by rubbing a slight scratch or wound, sniffing or breathing in dried louse feces in clothing or bedding, etc… The typhus enters the body through the mucous membranes in the nose or mouth Once infected with typhus, the victims become feverish and even delirious They experience an intense headache with pains in the muscles and joints. They exhibit a vivid rash of bright red spots similar to flea bites. They also emit a vile stench Death rates range from 10 to 40% depending on the age of the person Typhus erupted in Serbia in 1914 Within 6 months, 150,000 people died from typhus
Lice and Typhus Russia was hit hard by the typhus epidemic as well. Between 1917 and 1922, an estimated 25 to 30 million cases of typhus were documented Resulted in 3 million deaths Lenin declared: “Either socialism will defeat the louse, or the louse will defeat socialism.”
Private George Coppard in With A Machine Gun To Cambrai wrote about the lice: “ A full day’s rest allowed up to clean up a bit, and to launch a full scale attack on lice. I sat in a quiet corner of a barn for two hours delousing myself as best I could. We were all at it, for none of us escaped their vile attentions. The things lay in the seams of trousers, in the deep furrows of long thick woolly pants, and seemed impregnable in their deep entrenchments. A lighted candle applier where they were the thickest made them pop like Chinese crackers. After a session of this, my face would be covered with small blood spots from extra big fellows which had popped too vigorously. Lice hunting was called ‘chatting’. In parcels from home, it was usual to receive a tin of supposedly death-dealing powder or pomade, but the lice thrived on the stuff.”
The Little Soldiers of the Night Though some hundreds you may kill, You’ll find there’s hundreds still, For they hide beneath each other. And are smart at taking cover; Then you have an awful bite, They’ve a shocking appetite. There are families in dozens, Uncles, mothers, sisters, cousins, And they have their married quarters Where they rear their sons and daughters; And they take a lot of catching, Cause an awful lot of scratching.
Lovely Lice At the Gallipoli battles, the soldiers were forced to wear the same clothes for weeks without even taking them off. One Australian soldier finally got to take his socks off and saw a ghastly sight…”And Ma, I swear that as I dropped my socks on the floor, I saw them start to move. They were a seething mass of lice.”
Louse Hunting by Isaac Rosenberg Nudes-stark and glistening, Yelling in lurid glee. Grinning faces And raging limbs Whirl over the floor one fire For a shirt verminously busy Yon soldier tore from his throat, with oaths Godhead might shrink at, but not the lice. And soon the shirt was aflare.
“Louse Hunting” continued Over the candle he’d lit while we lay. Then we all sprang up and stript To hunt the verminous brood. Soon like a demon’s pantomine The place was raging. See the silhouettes agape, See the gibbering shadows Mixed with the battled arms on the wall.
“Louse Hunting” Continued See gargantuan hooked fingers Pluck in supreme flesh To smutch supreme littleness. See the merry limbs in hot Highland fling Because some wizard vermin Charmed from the quiet this revel When our ears were half lulled By the dark music Blown from Sleep’s trumpet.
. The men who were not getting in a bit of extra sleep sat about talking and smoking, writing letters home, cleaning their rifles, running their thumb-nails up the seams of their shirts to kill the lice, gambling. Lice were a standing joke. Young Bumford handed me one like this. 'We was just having an argument as to whether it was best to kill the old ones or the young ones, sir. Morgan here says that if you kill the old ones, the young ones will die of grief, but Parry here, sir, he says that the young ones are easier to kill and you can catch the old ones when they come to the funeral.‘ Robert Graves Goodbye to all That
Trench Rats "The rats were huge. They were so big they would eat a wounded man if he couldn't defend himself." "I saw some rats running from under the dead men's greatcoats, enormous rats, fat with human flesh. My heart pounded as we edged towards one of the bodies. His helmet had rolled off. The man displayed a grimacing face, stripped of flesh; the skull bare, the eyes devoured and from the yawning mouth leapt a rat." Many men killed in the trenches were buried almost where they fell. These corpses, as well as the food scraps that littered the trenches, attracted rats. Quotes from soldiers fighting in the trenches:
The soldiers had very little decent food, and what food they had was often attacked by rats. These rats were the size of small rabbits and badgers because they had fed on the decomposing bodies of dead soldiers.
Health Issues: Rats Corpses littered the trenches & fed the rats 1 pair of rats could produce 880 offspring in a year, so the trenches swarmed with rats Some of the rats grew huge---the size of a cat The rats were bold & fearless & would attempt to take food from the pockets of sleeping men 2 to 3 rats would always be found on a dead body They usually went for the eyes first & then burrowed into the body of the corpse and then ate from the inside out
Towards morning, while it is still dark, there is some excitement. Through the entrance rushes in a swarm of fleeing rats that try to storm the walls. Torches light up the confusion. Everyone yells and curses and slaughters. The madness and despair of many hours unloads itself in this outburst. Faces are distorted, arms strike out, the beasts scream; we stop just in time to avoid attacking one another.” Erich Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front Source:
Rats killed in one trench
Rats Rats became a problem in trenches during World War 1. They were attracted by the despicable smell and damp conditions. Rats would eat men's uniforms & generally just run around in the trenches. Sometimes they would bite soldiers, in desperation of hunger, which would cause extreme pain & often lead to infection. In extreme cases, a wounded or unprotected soldier could be eaten alive by a large group of rats. Dead corpses would often be eaten by the rats. One soldier described the rats as `small dogs' that would attack and eat anything. Wounded men were often afraid to go to sleep in their beds and men tried to secure their food during the night to stop rats from getting it.
Rats Rats in their millions infested the trenches. Two main types: brown & black rats Brown Rats most feared for they gorged themselves on the human remains & grew to the size of cats. The men would hunt them with gunfire, bayonet, or clubbing them to death. Rats spread infections & contaminated the food.
Stuart Dolden in 1920 shared about the rats: “We were filled with an instinctive hatred of them, because however one tried to put the thought out of one’s mind, one could not help feeling that they fed on the dead.”
Rats “The trenches of the Western Front were horrors in restful times. They were full of mud & infested with rats. One young lieutenant was awakened while sleeping in a dugout by a sound from the corner. He switched on his flashlight to reveal a large rat dragging something. In a moment he could make out it was a human hand.”
George Coppard in With A Machine Gun To Cambrai wrote: “Rats bred by the tens of thousands and lived on the fat of the land. When we were sleeping in funk holes, the things ran over us, played about, copulated and fouled our scraps of food, their young squeaking incessantly. There was no proper system of waste disposal in trench life. Empty tins of all kinds were flung away over the top on both sides of the trench. Millions of tins were thus available for all the rats in France and Belgium in hundreds of miles of trenches. During brief moments of quiet at night, one could hear a continuous rattle of tins moving against each other. The rats were turning them over. What happened to the rats under heavy shell-fire was a mystery, but their powers of survival kept pace with each new weapon, including poison gas.”
Hunting the Rats Richard Beasley in an interview in 1993 shared: “If you left your food the rats would soon grab it. Those rats were fearless. Sometimes we would shoot the filthy swines. But you would be put on charge for wasting ammo, if the sergeant caught you.” Frank Laird wrote after the war: “Sometimes the men amused themselves by baiting the ends of their rifles with pieces of bacon in order to have a shot at them at close quarters.”
We went up into the front-line near Arras, through sodden and devastated countryside. As we were moving up to the our sector along the communication trenches, a shell burst ahead of me and one of my platoon dropped. He was the first man I ever saw killed. Both his legs were blown off and the whole of his face and body was peppered with shrapnel. The sight turned my stomach. I was sick and terrified, but even more frightened of showing it. That night I had been asleep in a dugout about three hours when I woke up feeling something biting my hip. I put my hand down and my fingers closed on a big rat. It had nibbled through my haversack, my tunic and pleated kilt to get at my flesh. With a cry of horror I threw it from me.
Huddled in trenches between bombing raids What would you do to get rid of rats? Your ration for the day is a tin of ham and a slice of bread. How are you going to make it last? The rats have nibbled on your bread. Will you eat it? You eat some spoiled food and now feel very sick. You develop diarrhea. What can you do?
German Soldiers and Trench Cats German soldiers kept cats in the trenches to catch rats. The cats also gave early warnings of a British gas attack. They became restless, as though they could scent the poison gas before the main cloud appeared.
Terrier Dogs and Rats Terrier dogs were kept in the trenches to kill the rats. A devoted soldier wrote a poem to his terrier, Jim: A tough little, rough little beggar, And merry the eyes on him. But no German or Turk Can do dirtier work With an enemy rat than Jim. And when the light’s done and night’s falling, And shadows are darkling and dim, In my coat you will nuzzle Your pink little muzzle And growl in your dreams, little Jim.
Rats Notice the dog is hunting the rats
On your Left Side: Of all the insects and animals that tormented the soldiers in the trenches, which would have bothered you the most and why?
Terrible Toilets Toilets were built just behind the trenches out of sight of the enemy Deep pits with wooden seats on top Latrines: trench toilets; pits 4ft to 5ft deep; were often not cleaned out as much as they should be Some soldiers lit cigarettes while they sat on the holes doing their business, and the enemy snipers would wait and aim for the glow from the cigarette. Between the stagnant mud, the latrine, chloride of lime on un-buried corpses, rotting sandbags, stale human sweat, fumes, etc…the stench made you ill In 1917 battles in Flanders, the troops did not have proper trenches, just shell holes and sandbags. There were no toilet huts. One officer wrote home: “If you want to do your daily job of urinating and otherwise there is an empty tin can, and you have to do that in front of all your men, and then chuck the contents, (but not the tin can), out over the back.”
Terrible Toilets Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote All Quiet on the Western Front, described the toilets: “The older soldiers don’t use the unpleasant, indoor, common toilet, where 20 men sit side- by-side in a line. As it is not raining, they use the individual square wooden boxes with carrying handles on the sides. They pull three into a circle and sit there in the sun all afternoon reading, smoking, talking, playing cards.”
Other Health Issues Dysentery: inflammation of the lining of the large intestines-caused stomach pains and diarrhea, vomiting, and fever Symptoms of Dysentery are: Pain in the guts Painful pooing Bloody poo Sickness Fever And sometime death due to dehydrations Caused by water or food contaminated by human feces due to lack of proper sanitation
DYSENTERY Dysentery is a disease involving the inflammation of the lining of the large intestines & it strips the lining from the stomach. The inflammation causes stomach pains and diarrhea. Some cases involve vomiting and fever. The bacteria enter the body through the mouth in food or water, and also by human feces and contact with infected people. The diarrhea causes people suffering from dysentery to lose important salts and fluids from the body. This can be fatal if the body dehydrates. This disease struck the men in the trenches as there was no proper sanitation. Latrines in the trenches were pits four to five feet deep. When they were within one foot they were supposed to be filled in and the soldiers had the job of digging a new one. Sometimes there was not time for this and men used a nearby shell-hole. Dysentery caused by contaminated water was especially a problem in the early stages of the war. The main reason for this was that it was some time before regular supplies of water to the trenches could be organized. Soldiers were supplied with water bottles that could be refilled when they returned to reserve lines. However, the water-bottle supply was rarely enough for their needs and soldiers in the trenches often depended on impure water collected from shell-holes or other cavities. Later, to purify it, chloride of lime was added to the water. This was not popular with the soldiers as they disliked the taste of the purified water.
Siegfried Sassoon, Glory of Women (1917) You love us when we're heroes, home on leave, Or wounded in a mentionable place. You worship decorations; you believe That chivalry redeems the war's disgrace. You make us shells. You listen with delight, By tales of dirt and danger fondly thrilled. You crown our distant ardours while we fight, And mourn our laurelled memories when we're killed. You can't believe that British troops 'retire' When hell's last horror breaks them, and they run, Trampling the terrible corpses - blind with blood. O German mother dreaming by the fire, While you are knitting socks to send your son His face is trodden deeper in the mud.
On your Left Side: In the previous slide, what point is Siegfried Sassoon trying to make about the war? Explain. How can you tell?
A Song From the Trenches That Sums It All Up: “My Little Wet Home in the Trench” I’ve a little wet home in the trench, Which the rain-storms continually drench; Blue sky overhead, Mud and clay for a bed, And a stone that we use for a bench. Bully beef and hard biscuits we chew; Shells crackle and scare, But no place can compare With my little wet home in the trench.
“My Little Wet Home in the Trench” Our friends in the trench o’er the way Seem to know that we’ve come here to stay; They rush and they shout, But they can’t get us out, Though there’s no dirty work they don’t play. They rushed us a few nights ago, But we don’t like intruders, and so Some departed quite sore, Others sleep evermore, Near my little wet home in the trench.
“My Little Wet Home in the Trench” So hurrah for the mud and the clay, It’s the road to “Der Tag”-that’s “The Day”. When we enter Berlin, that big city of sin, Where we’ll make the fat Berliner pay, We’ll remember the cold, and the frost, When we scour the fat land of the Bhost; There’ll be shed then, I fear Redder stuff than a tear For my little wet home in the trench.
Poetry and Writing How did the slaughter of World I affect British, French, and German poets and writers? –Famous poetry from this time period was very dark and depressing. Most likely due from the terrible loss of so many people. "How to Die" Dark clouds are smouldering into red While down the craters morning burns. The dying soldier shifts his head To watch the glory that returns; He lifts his fingers toward the skies Where holy brightness breaks in flame; Radiance reflected in his eyes, And on his lips a whispered name. You'd think, to hear some people talk, That lads go West with sobs and curses, And sullen faces white as chalk, Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses. But they've been taught the way to do it Like Christian soldiers; not with haste And shuddering groans; but passing through it With due regard for decent taste. This is a poem written during WWI by Siegried Sassoon
For More Poetry Go to Ms. Barben’s Teacher Page and download the word document entitled World War One Poetry. This is good primary source material to incorporate into your diary entries.
Painting How did the slaughter of World War I affect British, French, and German painters? Roger de la Fresnaye, L'artillerie (Artillery), 1911 Max Beckmann, Der Kriegsausbruch 1914 Otto Dix, Selbstbildnis als Soldat, 1914 Frank Brangwyn, Tank in Action
“Art ” of Wo rld Wa r I Maurice Denis, Soirée calme en première ligne (Quiet Evening on the Front Line), 1917, oil on canvas, Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine - BDIC, Paris.
“A Street in Arras” John Singer Sargent, 1918
“Oppy Wood” – John Nash, 1917
“Those Who Have Lost Their Names” Albin Eggar-Linz, 1914
“Gassed and Wounded” Eric Kennington, 1918
“Paths of Glory” C. R. W. Nevinson, 1917
Trench Warfare: Analysis This was their new tactic in war. After the war, it had left horrific scars. Made many people not want to have another World War ever again.
On your Left Side: After examining all the weapons and trenches of World War One, which of the horrors the soldiers faced was the most HORRIFIC to you and why? Provide historical evidence to support your answer.
Henry Lumley, one of the first skin graft patients Antibiotics had not yet been invented, meaning it was very hard to graft tissue from one part of the body to another because infection often developed. invented the “tubed pedicle”. This used a flap of skin from the chest or forehead and “swung” it into place over the face. The flap remained attached but was stitched into a tube. This kept the original blood supply intact and dramatically reduced the infection rate.