Today is the day we kick off our brand spanking new online feature on the Great War, Military Monday. We will guide you through the most interesting and important parts of World War One in this new series.
Where to start? There could be only one place. The enduring image of the war: the trenches.
The famous saying at the start of the war was: “It will be over by Christmas”. Oh how wrong were they. With the war entering a stalemate, both sides dug in and the trench warfare began. Here’s what you need you know about trenches:
Life in the trenches
Conditions were not good for any soldier on the Western Front. The troops got minimal, if any, sleep and toilets often overran into the dirt they stood in, attracting disease ridden rats and parasites like lice.
The Triple Entente (Britain, France, Russia) were determined to not allow the Central Powers (Germany, Austro-Hungary, Ottoman Empire) to reach the sea. If they did, The Germans could utilise their immense navy force. The result was to dig in for the long run.
No Man’s Land and a game of football
Between the lines was no man’s land, a place where if you stood you would be struck by a sniper rifle or struck down by machine gun fire. Men would occasionally brave the danger to repair defences or to spy on enemy positions.
An iconic image of trench warfare is the Christmas truce. Truces occurred throughout December with singing and even reports of the giving of gifts. The act of goodwill is mostly fondly remembered for a football match played between the German and British soldiers. A truly heartwarming and iconic moment and a telling reminder that these soldiers were normal human beings.
Over the top
The worst thing any soldier could hear was their captain ordering the command: ‘over the top’. On the captain’s order, the soldiers armed with only a bayonet would charge across no man’s land towards the opposition trench. This act frequently sustained more losses than gains.
Join us same time, same place next week as we look at the birth of tank warfare. Not to be missed!
At ease soldier.