Life in the Trenches The trench system built up quickly based on the idea that soldiers would not stay in them very long. Conditions in the trenches were poor and forced men to live outside in all sorts or weather.
Over the Parapet Soldiers had to be on look-out for enemy patrols attacking their trenches. Jobs included cleaning weapons, digging or repairing the trench, filling sandbags and replacing barbed wire.
The trenches grew muddy and full of water in the poor weather of the winter months. Soldiers were forced to stand in cold dirty water sometimes up to their knees or beyond! Standing in cold water for long periods led to a condition known as Trench Foot.
Trench Foot was an extremely painful condition that caused a soldiers foot to swell up and go numb. Soldiers would often have to have their foot amputated as a result of this. Dry socks and whale-oil grease helped to prevent it.
Rats!!! Trenches were built hurriedly without a proper system for waste disposal. Food, empty cans, corpses and filth all attracted the rats! Trench rats grew to huge sizes and would steal food from sleeping soldiers. They were also to be found on the bodies of dead soldiers. “We were filled with hatred for them because one could not help feeling that they fed on the dead”
Lice Lice was another common feature of trench life. Caused scratching, irritation, misery and disease: Trench Fever. Soldiers tried burning them with candles. Soldiers were given huge baths and clothes were rinsed but the eggs remained and hatched again!
Summary Life in the trenches was very hard, it was also uncomfortable and dangerous. Soldiers had to face: - Freezing weather conditions = lack of sleep - Water logged trenches and Trench Foot - Rats - Lice As well as risking their lives on a daily basis to maintain and guard their trench from an enemy attack.