Puzzled but suspicious the French suspected that the cloud masked an advance by German infantry and ordered their men to '' - that is, to mount the trench in readiness for probable attack.
Each dawn, the usual time for an enemy attack, soldiers woke to “stand-to,” guarding their front line trenches. Afterwards, if there had not been an assault, they gathered for inspections, breakfast, and the daily rum ration.
Photograph, World War One, Gallipoli (1915). Periscopes provided a less dangerous way of observing the Turks from the trenches. In its simplest form, a periscope could be just a stick with two angled pieces of mirror at the top and bottom.
The use of chemical agents by Germany was said to have been initiated by the necessity of war fighters to develop new war strategies to offset trench warfare.
The ending of this possibility and build up towards a stationary war of fixed entrenchment was not only due to the failure of the Schlieffen Plan and Plan XVII, but the problems in communications, problems faced through tactics and strategies and the role of the commanders throughout the planning and progression of the war....
Born from the need to break the domination of trenches and machine guns on the Western Front, Britain designed the world’s first combat tank, known as the Mark I.
Structured with sandbag walls, the Old British Line in which the men were stationed was only a frail comfort, as the trenches were often only one row deep with no additional protection against debris caused by artillery shells.
Communication between the between the front line and the Old British Line was provided some covered by through the Cover Trench, although Prior’s account of returning from The Island, the front line, states that he had to pause every two minutes to lay in a ditch along the road to avoid the infamous German machine guns....
* is a former New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year and the author, most recently, of . He was a participant in the Harper's Magazine forum "School on a Hill," which appeared in the September 2001 issue. You can find his web site .
Nighttime in the trenches was both the busiest and the most dangerous. Under cover of darkness, soldiers often climbed out of their trenches and moved into No Man’s Land, the blasted landscape separating the two armies. Here, work parties repaired barbed wire or dug new trenches. More aggressive operations involved patrolling for enemy activity or conducting raids to kill or capture enemy troops or to gather intelligence.
Even in the so-called quiet moments, trench life witnessed a steady trickle of death and maiming. Outside of formal battles, snipers and shells regularly killed soldiers in the trenches, a phenomenon known as “wastage.” This regular death toll ensured the need for constant reinforcements. In the 800-strong infantry units, “wastage” rates were as high as 10 percent per month, or 80 soldiers killed or incapacitated.
The war of movement ended, this resulted in soldiers in digging holes, roughly 3metres in height and 1.5metres wide, known as trenches, for protection along the front line.
Soldiers built trenches because men wanted to find shelter from the weight and firepower of modern arms and artillery, as underground was the best hope of survival....
The trenches were far from safe; possibly one third of all casualties on the Weston front were killed or wounded in the trenches, mostly from artillery fire.