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World War One - Trench Warfare

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.


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."


British Military Campaign Furniture (Mappin and Webb, 1915)

The furniture made available for private purchase to British officers during World War One was a far cry from that which their Victorian father's enjoyed; however, the thought of going off to war without camp furniture at all was foreign to them. The page illustrates the simple, collapsible furniture that was approved by the British War Office for use in the field.


W.W. I Trench Fighting (The New Republic, 1915)

The seasoned war correspondent from THE NEW REPUBLIC filed this essay some five months into the war in order to clarify for his American readers the exact nature of trench warfare. His observations are based upon the trench fighting that he witnessed both in France and during the Russo-Japanese War, some nine years earlier:

"There is an illusion that the range and effectiveness of modern arms tend to keep armies far apart. On the contrary, there is more hand-to-hand fighting today than at any time since gunpowder was invented... at this rate the French will not drive out the Germans in months, but on the other hand a frontal attack, and every attack must now be frontal, even if successful would cost several hundred thousand men."

The article was written by Gerald Morgan; by war's end he would serve as General Pershing's press chief (ie.censor).

Baseball as a metaphor for war...


America's First Trench Raid (The Stars and Stripes, 1918)

An account of the first all-American trench raid of the First World War. The correspondent noted that the raid, which took place in the Loraine Sector, spanned forty-seven minutes from start to finish.

The participating unit was not named.


Foolhardiness on the Western Front (Literary Digest, 1917)

The manner in which front-line soldiers in a war are able to stave off boredom has been the topic of many letters and memoirs throughout the centuries, and the attached article will show you how one Frenchman addressed the issue - it is a seldom seen black and white photograph depicting an acrobatic stunt being performed above the parapet and in plain view of German snipers.


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