In the trenches of 1914-1918
What were the trenches? Although most of us think primarily of the Great War in terms of life and death in the trenches, only a relatively small proportion of the army actually served there. The trenches were the front lines, the most dangerous places. Why were the trenches there? The idea of digging into the ground to give some protection from powerful enemy artillery and small arms fire was not a new idea or unique to the Great War. What were the trenches like? The type and nature of the trench positions varied a lot, depending on the local conditions. The bird's-eye view (below, from an official infantry training manual of March 1916) shows a typical but very stylised trench layout. Behind it is another line, similarly made, called a support line. The enemy had a very similar system of trenches. A typical trench system consisting of three main fire or support trenches, connected by communication trenches and with various posts, strong points and saps. Keep your head down!