* Why were trenches used in WWI? * Look of trenches * Conditions inside the trenches * Why trenches were so bad * New technology: Big Guns, Planes, Machine guns, Tanks, Gas, Gas masks, Zeppelins, Flame throwers, Submarines * Soldiers equipment * Conclusion
Why were trenches used in WWI?
Trenches were used in world war one to protect soldiers from German fire. They were little ditches in the ground that each person had for themselves, but soon they joined into a line to communicate easier.
It’s called a trench because they carried spades called ‘entrenchers’ to dig, so to dig something was to ‘entrench it’. Ever since then the name trench developed.
Front line trenches were backed up by support trenches, communication trenches, dead end trenches (to confuse the enemy) and large ‘dug-outs’.
The area between the two sides was named ‘no man’s land’ as it was neither side’s territory. The trenches were under almost constant shell fire and bitterly-fought trench raids to collect prisoners and information, took place almost every night.
All men on the front line feared for their lives, especially as the German’s had fearful new weapons like flamethrowers. In addition, the men had to put up with the most awful living conditions.
Northern France where the trenches were mainly was in low-lying countryside, making them damp and muggy, and front line troops were seldom dry.
Look of trenches
Trenches were around 7ft deep and built by the soldiers themselves, they could span for hundreds of km. Some of the main features of the trenches were..... * Barbed wire, this was placed around 6 ft away from the top edge of the trenches. This was the 1st line of defence in the trenches to stop enemy soldiers entering the trenches. * Fire step, this would help soldiers to get 'Over the Top'(out over the top of the trench) also it would help the soldiers get better aim when shooting out of the trench. * Dug out, this was to protect soldiers whilst they were getting their well earned rest. * Zigzag formation, extremely hard to take over as there could be an ambush around any of the corners, also strong against aerial bombings as the force of the force of the bomb couldn't sweep down a straight line it had to take out all the corners as well. * Machine gun posts were strategically placed around trenches to gun down any on coming enemy soldiers.
Conditions inside the trenches
Conditions inside the trenches were extremely poor. The ground was almost constantly wet, which affected the soldiers. They would have to live, eat and sleep in the same place every day and night. Living in those conditions caused a few problems.
Soldiers had limited rations for each day. A British soldier would of had: * Bully (corned) beef – 454g * Bread or biscuits – 567g * Bacon – 113g * Tea – 14g * Sugar – 56g * Jam – 56g * Cheese – 28g * Butter – 21g * Potatoes – 340g
Also small amounts of salt, pepper and mustard. They would eat this out of a ‘mess-tin’. Front line men were also rationed rum, to help calm their nerves.
As many soldiers fell to their deaths, their bodies would have been left as they were to rot. These corpses, as well as the food scraps that littered the trenches, attracted rats.
Rats can produce nearly 200 offspring in a year, some of them growing extremely large. Although the rats normally targeted corpses, a wounded man that could not defend himself would simply be eaten alive.
Body lice infected many men in the trenches, but the disease did not kill. It stopped men from fighting though, and accounted for about 15% of all cases of sickness in the British Army.
One soldier described them as ‘pale fawn in colour, and they left the body blotchy and red with bite marks all over’.
As well as causing rashes over the body, the lice carried a disease known as pyrexia or trench fever. Where