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World War One - Trench Warfare

Barbusse Described the Winter Trenches (Collier's Magazine, 1917)

"The war has changed many things, and it may have altered conceptions of military smartness as well. For from Paris, the home of 'mode' and 'chic', comes a daily fashion hint from the front that is upsetting. It is from Henri Barbusse (1873 - 1935), author of the novel Under Fire

"Hides, bundles, blankets, pieces of cloth, knitted hoods, woolen caps, fur caps, mufflers, wound around or worn like turbans, headgear knit and double knit, coverings and roofings of tarred, oiled or waterproofed capes and cowls, black, or all colors once of the rainbow; all these cover the men obliterating their uniforms as well as covering their skins, making them look immense and cumbersome..."


Visions of the Trenches by Otto Dix (Artist's Portfolio, 1919)

Attached are assorted W.W. I combat images by noted German Expressionist Otto Dix (1891 1969). Shortly after returning from the war, Dix threw away his uniform, locked himself in his print studio and began to diligently labor over a vast number of etching plates - all baring the dreadful images of trench warfare that had been burned into his memory during the course of living his beastly, troglodyte existence in the trenches of France.


Entry to a German Dugout (L'Illustration, 1915)

A French photograph showing the entry way to one of the many subterranean shelters that dotted the Western front during the First World War; also included is another diagram of what one of the smaller German dugouts resembled that had such an entry.

This article appears on this site by way of a special agreement with L'Illustration.


''The German Concrete Trenches'' (NY Times, 1915)

"Some of the trenches have two stories, and at the back of many of them are subterranean rest houses built of concrete and connected with the trenches by passages. The rooms are about seven feet high and ten feet square, and above the ground all evidence of the work is concealed by green boughs and shrubbery."


A British Drawing of a German Trench Latrine (Royal Engineers, 1915)

Attached, you will find a mechanical drawing made by the industrious souls assigned to the Royal Engineers in order to placate those busy-body brass-hats situated so far in the rear and having little better to do than wonder aloud as to how the Hun tended to deal with his bowel movements.

The author of The Western Front Companion is very informative on the topic of trench latrines and tells us that as the war progressed, latrines evolved into loitering centers for those wishing to read or enjoy some solitude. In order to remedy the situation officers decided to position their front-line trench latrines at the end of short saps, closer to the enemy; the reason being that a man was less likely to tarry and would return to duty that much quicker.


Night Patrol in the Trenches (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..."


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