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Photos courtesy of www.gwpda.org/photos/greatwar.htm World War I LIVING AND SURVIVING IN THE TRENCHES.

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Presentation on theme: "Photos courtesy of www.gwpda.org/photos/greatwar.htm World War I LIVING AND SURVIVING IN THE TRENCHES."— Presentation transcript:

1 photos courtesy of World War I LIVING AND SURVIVING IN THE TRENCHES

2 photos courtesy of LIFE IN THE TRENCHES ‘mud, sleet, ice, mud, noise, jagged steel, horror piled on reeking horror’.

3 photos courtesy of The Western Front xsTb08

4 photos courtesy of War and Death  Most soldiers were killed during major offensives. Over 21,300 were killed on the first day of the Somme and over 50 per sent of those who took part in the attack were wounded. Other major offences such as those at Loos and Passchendaele resulted in large numbers being killed. Being in front-line trenches was also extremely dangerous. Almost every day some enemy artillery shells would fall on the trenches. One study suggested that one-third of all casualties on the Western Front were killed or wounded while in the trenches.

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8 v3oDFtA3Es&feature=related Trenches were dug in a zig-zag pattern so that they could not be easily taken by intruding enemies Each trench had a listening post at the end, where men would sit at nighttime and listen for any sounds. Flooding was a consistent problem and this led to numerous cases of rat infestation Levels of trenches were built (front-line, support, reserve and communication trench) so that the enemy could not easily take over one trench

9 photos courtesy of The Trench Design Trenches were designed so that they would be about six feet in depth and be wide enough for two soldiers to pass at a time. At regular intervals along the trench a firing step would be positioned so that the soldiers could stand on it to see over the top of the trench and fire a weapon into "no-man’s land". Along the bottom of the trench would be wooden duckboards that would stop the soldiers from sinking into the wet mud below. In general terms the German trenches were in better conditions than the British and French trenches, sometimes even being built with concrete walls and having intricate underground rooms for soldiers to sleep

10 photos courtesy of The trenches were regularly flooded, while soldiers would try to sleep in such inhospitable conditions. Corpses of colleagues once living, scattered around the trench, would pass on diseases as well as bring parasites such as lice, maggots, fleas etc... Blood lay all around, another possible way to catch disease, while fires occasionally ripped through the trenches burning the remaining belongings of the soldiers along with the men themselves. With the lack of hygiene and the piles of filth and bodily waste the soldiers and trench smelt terrible.

11 photos courtesy of Chlorine Gas  After the first German chlorine gas attacks, Allied troops were supplied with masks of cotton pads that had been soaked in urine. It was found that the ammonia in the pad neutralized the poison. Other soldiers preferred to use handkerchiefs, a sock, a flannel body-belt, dampened with a solution of bicarbonate of soda, and tied across the mouth and nose until the gas passed over. It was not until July 1915 that soldiers were given efficient gas masks and anti-asphyxiation respirators.

12 photos courtesy of Trench Rats  One soldier wrote: "The rats were huge. They were so big they would eat a wounded man if he couldn't defend himself." These rats became very bold and would attempt to take food from the pockets of sleeping men. Two or three rats would always be found on a dead body. They usually went for the eyes first and then they burrowed their way right into the corpse.

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14 Necessity the Mother of Invention To allow a soldier to see out of the trench without exposing his head, a loophole would be built into the parapet. A loophole might simply be a gap in the sandbags, or it might be fitted with a steel plate. German snipers used armor-piercing bullets that allowed them to penetrate loopholes. The other means to see over the parapet was the trench periscope—in its simplest form, just a stick with two angled pieces of mirror at the top and bottom. In the Anzac trenches at Gallipoli, where the Turks held the high ground, the periscope rifle was developed to enable the Australians and New Zealanders to snipe at the enemy without exposing themselves over the parapet.

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17 Marching on an Empty Stomach  Food for soldiers in the trenches during World War One was at times considered a luxury. Getting decent hot food from the field kitchens to the front line trenches could be impossible when a battle was either imminent or in full flow. When soldiers were at stand-down, food was easier to acquire and both British and German troops could expect certain food to be available with a degree of frequency.  The theoretical daily rations for a British soldier were:  20 ounces of bread1/10 gill lime if vegetables not issued16 ounces of flour instead of above½ gill of rum3 ounces of cheese maximum of 20 ounces of tobacco5/8 ounces of tea1/3 chocolate – optional4 ounces of jam4 ounces of oatmeal instead of bread½ ounce of salt1 pint of porter instead of rum1/36 ounce of pepper4 ounces of dried fruit instead of jam1/20 ounce of mustard4 ounces of butter/margarine8 ounces of fresh vegetables or2 ounces of dried vegetables  Men claimed that although the officers were well-fed the men in the trenches were treated appallingly. All men carried emergency food called iron rations. This was a can of bully beef, a few biscuits and a sealed tin of tea and sugar. These iron rations could only be opened with the permission of an officer. This food did not last very long and if the kitchen staff were unable to provide food to the soldiers they might be forced to retreat from land they had won from the enemy.

18 photos courtesy of

19 SIMPSON AND HIS DONKEY? Research the contribution of Simpson and his donkey to the war effort. 150 words

20 photos courtesy of Stretcher Bearers  In good conditions two men could carry a wounded man on a stretcher. However, after heavy rain it took four men to lift a stretcher. The men not only had the problem of dragging their feet out of the mud after every step, they also had to make sure not to rock the stretcher as this would increase the pain of the wounded man. The pain of shattered bone ends grating together was so intense that the wounded man was likely to die of shock. One stretcher-bearer working in the mud in 1916 reported that:  "as one carried a wounded man you got stuck in the mud and staggered. You put out a hand to steady yourself, the earth gave way and you found you were clutching the blackened face of a half-buried, dead soldier."

21 photos courtesy of Digging, Filling, Pumping The latrines was the name given to trench toilets. They were usually pits, 4 ft. to 5 ft. deep, dug at the end of a short sap. Each company had two sanitary personnel whose job it was to keep the latrines in good condition. In many units, officers gave out sanitary duty as a punishment for breaking army regulations. Before a change-over in the trenches, the out-going unit was supposed to fill in its latrines and dig a new one for the new arrivals

22 photos courtesy of  Many diseases were easily caught by the soldiers in these conditions. Here are just a few:-  *fungal infections ("trench foot" where feet could fall off)  *warts and blisters (commonly on feet)  *typhoid (through dirty water)  *flu/cold (common but deadly in such conditions)  *hypothermia (through cold wind and snow)  Themselves, many of these diseases could be cured by drugs but due to the lack of drugs in the trenches they became deadly.

23 photos courtesy of MUSTARD GAS  Mustard Gas (Yperite) was first used by the German Army in September The most lethal of all the poisonous chemicals used during the war, it was almost odourless and took twelve hours to take effect. Yperite was so powerful that only small amounts had to be added to high explosive shells to be effective. Once in the soil, mustard gas remained active for several weeks. The skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, the eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. This was extremely painful and most soldiers had to be strapped to their beds. It usually took a person four or five weeks to die of mustard gas poisoning. One nurse, Vera Brittain, wrote: "I wish those people who talk about going on with this war whatever it costs could see the soldiers suffering from mustard gas poisoning. Great mustard-coloured blisters, blind eyes, all sticky and stuck together, always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke.“  “Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.  Wilfred Owen

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25  Many soldiers fighting in the First World War suffered from trench foot. This was an infection of the feet caused by cold, wet and insanitary conditions. In the trenches men stood for hours on end in waterlogged trenches without being able to remove wet socks or boots. The feet would gradually go numb and the skin would turn red or blue. If untreated, trench foot could turn gangrenous and result in amputation. Trench foot was a particular problem in the early stages of the war. For example, during the winter of over 20,000 men in the British Army were treated for trench foot. The only remedy for trench foot was for the soldiers to dry their feet and change their socks several times a day. By the end of 1915 British soldiers in the trenches had to have three pairs of socks with them and were under orders to change their socks at least twice a day. As well as drying their feet, soldiers were told to cover their feet with a grease made from whale- oil. It has been estimated that a battalion at the front would use ten gallons of whale-oil every day.

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27 Rv56gsqkzs&feature=related  Soldier at Somme - "Corpses lie along the parapets, rotting in the wet; the mud makes it all but impassable, and now sunk up to my knees, I have the momentary terror of never being able to pull myself out..."  "men die from slow suffocation in the mud, the wounded are often suffocated in the mire before the stretcher bearers can get to them."  Robert Graves - "The trench smell still haunts my nostrils : compounded of stagenant mud, latrine buckets, chloride of lime, half buried corpses, stale human sweat and fumes of cordite and lyditte.  Sgt.Pottering - "Rats, feeding on the flesh of corpses, became giant sized. I saw a rat bite a sergeant’s ear while he slept. They got used to the troops; boots had to be worn at night and faces covered while food had to be suspended from the dug-out ceiling."

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30 DEATHS BY PRINCIPLE DISEASES Pneumonia83.6% Meningitis4.1% Tuberculosis2.3% Empyema1.1% Septicaemia0.6% Bright's Disease 0.5% Typhoid0.5% Peritonitis0.5% Appendicitis0.4% Organic Heart Diseases 0.4% Scarlet Fever0.3% Measles0.2% Other5% DEATH BY DISEASE


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