Describe the previouspictures. What did a WW1 trench look like? Comfortable? Clean?
Trench warfare is a type of fighting duringWorld War I in which both sides dug trenches protected by mines and barbed wire.
The war on the western front was a new kind of warfare. No one had experienced war like it before. The generals had not allowed it. Everyone had to adapt. Therewere several main changes in techniques.
Most obvious change was the system of warfare War had changed from MOVEMENT to STATIC WAR Trenches had begun as simple shelters but developed into complex defensive systems
For much of the war, artillery would pound the enemy trench with hundreds of shells. Artillery bombardments caused more casualties than any other weapons. At the beginning of the war the guns were not very accurate. By the end artillery was bigger, tactics more sophisticated & a key weapon.
WW1 saw the end of the cavalry as a weapon of the modern army. In 1914 all sides thought the speed and mobility of the cavalry would be decisive Once in the trench though – the cavalry became too vulnerable (only 3 of 400 horses survived)
The infantryman or foot soldier was the backbone of the army. Steel helmets (some protection against shrapnel) were only issued in 1916. The infantry was originally to be used to follow the cavalry charge – however that changed with the infantry charge New camouflage techniques
The machine gun was devastatingly effective against the infantry charge (8 bullets a second). The machine gun made it inevitable that any charge would cost many lives. New theory – send more troops – cant kill them all!! Those who survived could capture the trench. The infantry was the only attacking strategy the generals had. Eventually = new weapons, techniques, camouflage, gas & tanks.
First attack in April 1915 – German released Chlorine = mass panic After it became a regular feature of the war. Aim = to disable enemy troops so infantry could charge. Gases inc: mustard – which burned/blinded/slowly killed troops. Fear of gas reduced with issue of the gas mask.
British invention. First used at the Battle of the Somme (1916) Caused huge alarm amongst Germans & raised morale among the British. First machines = slow & unreliable
Range of experiences – extreme boredom to appalling stress Trenches – usually 8 days in – 4 days out. Part of those days would be in support, rather than front line trenches.
Millions of men & thousands of horses lived together. Smells of raw sewage, unwashed soldiers & rotting corpses. Soldiers infested with lice. Up to their knees in water = trench foot (frostbite in winter). Infested by rats.
FOO A soldier remembered- ‘Many times we onlyD Hot food was difficult to prepare had one slice of bread for breakfast and biscuits for tea. These near the front line. Water was often were so hard you had short and dirty. Standard rations to smash them with a were corned beef (bully) and hard stone.’ biscuits.
R A‘There are millions! Some are huge fellows Tnearly as big as cats. Several of our men were Sawakened to find a rat snuggling down underthe blanket alongside them.’ A British Officer
SHELL SHOCK The noise of the constant shells made many men go mad. Living in a permanent state of tension caused limbs to tremble continuously and stammering to occur. Many men with shell shock who were unable to fight were shot by their officers for refusing to fight.
G A S Lance Sergeant Cotton 1915 ‘Propped up against the wall was a dozen men – all gassed. Their colours were black, green and blue, their tongues hanging out and eyes staring…some were coughing up green froth from their lungs,