British Trench in Flanders

A contemporary war artist shows, in this illustration, how it was to live and fight in the cold wet trenches of northern Europe in 1914. As the war progressed efforts were made to provide better protection and comfort for the men but in the autumn and winter of 1914 the army had to adapt as well as it could. The men here are standing in water, and a pump has been rigged up to bale it out. The sandbags form a parapet on the front of the trench and rifles are left in place so that they can be fired quickly in the event of an enemy attack. This would restrict the field of fire but give good protection for the men. It is easy to see from this how unprotected the men were from attack if the enemy were able to penetrate the line and come up from behind. The line of this trench stretches away into the distance and it seems improbable that there would not be communication trenches at right angles to provide access for supplies and reinforcements. There would also be more shell-holes from the constant artillery bombardment.

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by Stephen Luscombe