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5.  life in the trenches

5. life in the trenches






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5.  life in the trenches 5. life in the trenches Presentation Transcript

  • Life in the Trenches 1914-1918
  • When war was declared in 1914 Canadian were excited. Thousands of men volunteered eagerly while proclaiming “Home for Christmas”. Outside the Toronto Star building midnight August 4, 1914. Many were excited at the prospect of being a hero, having a chance to visit Europe and not have to worry about unemployment.
  • Volunteers were first sent for training at the new facility of Valcartier in Quebec.
  • From Valcartier the troops took a train to Halifax and then a ship to Britain.
  • Upon arrival in Europe many of the soldiers were transported to the battlefields and trenches of France.
  • Trenches were usually about seven feet deep and six feet wide and often included underground dugouts to house reserve soldiers.
  • The Germans were the first to decide that the trench system was necessary and therefore were able to choose the better, higher ground on which to build their trenches.
  • Many of the Allies were forced to build their trenches in areas that were only a few feet above sea level. As a result most of the trenches usually a foot or two of water in them.
  • As a result issues such as “trench foot” were common in the early months of the war.
  • Soon it became mandatory for soldiers to change their socks every day, rub their feet with whale oil and receive regular foot inspections.
  • Other conditions of the trenches include lice, rats, and dysentery.
  • Often when a soldier was killed in the trench their bodies remained where they fell. Eventually bodies at various stages of decay would surround the trenches attracting rats and resulting in disease.
  • Body lice also spread quickly throughout the trenches. This left the soldiers with itchy red bites on their bodies and sometimes resulted in the spread of disease which became known as trench fever. Trying to rid clothing of lice.
  • Both the quality and quantity of food was also quite poor. Bully beef and biscuits was most common and many found the food bland and monotonous.
  • The rotation in the trenches was on a 16 day timetable. Soldiers would spend 8 days in the front line, four in the reserve trench and four in a rest camp away from the front. Sometimes quite active Sometimes quite idle
  • Bodies of fallen soldiers were everywhere. Sometimes when new trenches or dugouts were needed dead bodies would be found just below the surface.
  • Trenches were protected by thick barbed-wire. Usually it was placed far enough from the trench to prevent the enemy from lobbing grenades into the trench.
  • No Man’s Land was the ground between two opposing trenches. It varied in size but was often about 200-250 meters wide.
  • Heavy artillery was often used to penetrate through the barbed wire protection. This type of weapon would also account for 7 out of 10 deaths on the Western Front. British Howitzers used at the Battle of the Somme
  • Poison gas also became a threat to both sides. In all approximately 91,000 men were killed as a result of poison gas. A rare aerial view of a gas attack.
  • Shell shock (today known as PTSD) was first noticed by doctors treading soldiers in 1914.
  • By the end of war more than 908,000 soldiers of the British Empire were killed and 2,000,000 were seriously wounded. In all more than 9 million were dead and 20 million wounded.