Presentation on theme: " The Great War was supposed to be a fairly short event and one of great movement. This was not to be the case! WW1 was known for its lack of movement."— Presentation transcript:
The Great War was supposed to be a fairly short event and one of great movement. This was not to be the case! WW1 was known for its lack of movement – there were years of stalemate from Autumn 1914 to Spring 1918.
The war began quickly with the Germans quickly storming through Belgium and into France on their way to Paris. At the Battle of Marne in 1914, the Germans were pushed back by allied forces. The Germans “dug in” to prevent the loss of too much ground. The Allies also “dug in” as they were unable to break through this defence.
The Trench Cycle: - A battalion would have to spend a cycle in the front line, they would then move to support, then the reserves before having a rest (usually very short). - Some would have to spend a much longer time in the front line than other – it depended on the situation.
Stand To and Morning Hate: - Every morning, an hour before dawn, everyone would be woken and told to stand on the first step to prepare for a dawn raid. - Both sides started to perform this ritual, but both sides kept attacking at dawn. - The Morning Hate was designed to ease tensions of the early morning – both sides would send off machine gun fire, shells and other artillery.
There was an unofficial truce between each side at breakfast time – soldiers were able to eat breakfast in relative peace. Throughout the day, soldiers would be required to perform chores – refilling sandbags, fixing loose boards and draining the trenches.
The Smell: - This was the main trait that every visitor to the trenches noticed first. - Rotting bodies lay everywhere. - Overflowing toilets. - Unwashed bodies – sweat and feet. - Creosol or chloride of lime to stop disease. - Cordite, poisonous gases, rotting sandbags, cigarette smoke, cooking smells and stagnant mud.
Pests: - Rats in their millions infested trenches. The brown rats were particularly feared as they would eat the dead bodies and would grow to the size of a cat. The rats would spread infection and contaminate food. - Lice were a never ending problem, they would live in the seams of clothing and cause the men to itch. Lice caused Trench Fever, a particularly painful disease that began suddenly with severe pain followed by high fever. Recovery - away from the trenches - took up to twelve weeks. Lice were not actually identified as the culprit of Trench Fever until 1918.
Pests: - Frogs would be found in the mud puddles left from shell fire as well as in the bottom of muddy trenches. - Slugs and horned beetles lined the sides of trenches. - Soldiers would shave their heads to avoid nits. - Trench Foot was another issue due to constant cold, wet and dirty trench conditions. It would cause an infection which would turn gangrenous and result in amputation.
It is estimated that 1/3 of Allied casualties on the Western Front were actually sustained in the trenches. Many novices to the front line had to be warned from looking over the top and into No Man’s Land – as snipers were always waiting. Many men died on their first day in the trenches.
Insert clip from Horrible Histories about life in the trenches