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World War One - Trench Warfare

TRENCH RAID! (The American Legion Weekly, 1922)

This is an eyewitness account of the very first trench raid to have been suffered by the U.S. Army in France; like most first time engagements in American military history, it didn't go well and resulted in three dead, five wounded, and eleven Americans taken as prisoner. Historians have recorded this event to have taken place on the morning of November 3, 1917, but this participant stated that it all began at

"3:00 a.m. on November 2, after a forty-five minute artillery barrage was followed by the hasty arrival of 240 German soldiers, two wearing American uniforms, jumped into their trench and began making quick work out of the Americans within."

The U.S. Army would not launch their own trench raid for another four months.

 

French Soldiers Desperate to Leave the Trenches (The Atlanta Georgian, 1917)

So horrid was the terror of World War I trench warfare that more than a few of the Frenchmen serving in those forward positions (and others who were simply overcome with life in the military) began to post personal ads in French newspapers, volunteering to marry widows and divorcees with large families in order to be absolved of all military duty.

Read what the U.S. Army psychologists had to say about courage.

 

Night Patrol in the Toul Sector (Stars and Stripes, 1918)

"Mr. Junius B. Wood, correspondent of the CHICAGO DAILY NEWS with the A.E.F. recently spent a week in the sector held by the American Army Northwest of Toul. He lived the life of a Doughboy, slept a little and saw a lot. He spent his days in and near the front line and some of his nights in No Man's Land. Here is the second and concluding installment of his story, depicting life at the front as it actually is..."

Click here to read an article about the German veterans of W.W. I.

 

A German Listening Post North of Verdun (American Legion Monthly, 1937)

Appearing in THE AMERICAN LEGION MONTHLY some nineteen years after the end of the war was this nifty article written by a German veteran. The article explains quite simply how his forward listening post operated in the German trenches North of Verdun during the early Autumn on 1918.

 

Trench Medicine (Harper's Weekly, 1915)

An informative article from World War I concerning the doctors of all the combatant nations and how they dealt with the filthy conditions of stagnant warfare and all the different sorts of wounds that were created as a result of this very different war:

"This is a dirty war. Gaseous, gangrene, lockjaw, blood poisoning, all dirt diseases... Colonel G.H. Makins of the Royal Army Medical Corps longs for the clean dust of the Veldt, which the British soldier cursed in the Boer War."

 

Instructions for Building Trench Shelters (Trench Warfare, 1917)

It was the preferred plan on both sides that their troops sleep in fields and forests as they briskly marched forward to the terror-struck cities of their timid and surrendering foes - but other sleeping arrangements had to be made when it was decided that trenches were necessary. Officers in forward trenches would sleep in shifts within muddy little rooms called "dugouts" and the enlisted men would get something worse; dubbed, "shelters", these holes were simply rectangular caves carved into the walls of the trench:

Click here to see a 1915 ad for British Army military camp furniture.

 


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