Life in the Trenches Front line trenches faced each other across no-man’s land. They were often wet and rat infested. A tour in the trenches usually lasted six days followed by twelve days of respite behind the lines.
Life in the Trenches II At night patrols were sent out across no-man’s land to probe enemy defenses and cut his barbed wire. Dawn often brought attacks when men were ordered “over the top.” Once into the open ground of no-man’s land they were cut down by machine gun and artillery fire. The wounded were often left to die where they fell.
It reached peak brutality and bloodshed on the Western Front in the First World War.
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‘d stay for days.”
The Government wanted to encourage men to enlist for war. They said the war would be safe, hardly any fighting, a good game and over by Christmas. They used advertising posters to encourage this idea! A picture of soldiers going ‘Over the Top’
The reality of ‘going over the top’ was very different!
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.
How the uniform and equipment changed after just three weeks in the trenches…
Posters always showed men ready and willing to fight. They never showed the boredom of the trenches or actual fighting taking place. Why do you think the government showed no fighting?
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.