LIFE IN THE TRENCHES
For soldiers, life in the trenches was not a fun or easy task. Men from the age of 13 signed up to join the army, for various reasons. Britain’s were very patriotic and wanted to proudly represent their country! Others were simply afraid of receiving a white feather from the women. After 3 weeks of training they were sent up the line towards the front. The soldiers slept in dugouts which were of shocking condition. Why were the German dugouts better? – Because they could keep the land they’d already won which meant they had more time to make their trenches more ‘luxurious’. Each soldier had morning duties including Stand-To, refilling sandbags, repairing duckboards, cleaning out the latrines etc. During the soldiers spare time they would write letters back to Britain to tell their relatives how they are. The Defence Realm Act made sure all letters written must be censored before being posted off. Soldiers could not complain about the trench life! Other than writing home, another activity to do in spare time was to read the Wiper’s Times with their comrades. This newspaper made funny jokes especially about leaders. This temporarily relieved the soldier’s worries and as well as bringing cheer to their hearts, helped them to see the funny side of things. A second Stand-To is held at sunset when the light is completely gone and just like at dawn, the soldiers stand on the fire-step with rifles and bayonets to prevent unexpected enemy attacks. After it is safe to ‘stand-down’ a few soldiers still remain on alert if they have been ordered to stand on sentry duty for a couple hours. If you get caught falling asleep on sentry duty you will be punished with execution. By summer, the rats are a massive problem and are breeding rapidly. They feed off the rotting bodies and create a vile smell! Unfortunately, it is not permitted to shoot pests as they will be punished for waste of ammunition. As autumn falls, every single soldier is covered in lice...
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