Life in the trenches

Life in the trenches was a miserable experience. The ‘Great War’ was supposed to be a short skirmish. Instead long drawn out war, where both sides dug in and formed a stalemate.


In the trenches soldiers were in danger of artillery fire, gas attacks, disease and or from the bullet of an enemy sniper.


Rats and itchy lice helped spread disease around the trenches. The rats grew so big that they were said to be the size of cats and the reason? They fed on dead human corpses.

Lice meanwhile caused trench fever, and spread their eggs on the dirty clothes of soldiers.

The damp, wet unsanitary trenches caused a horrible infection known as trench foot, which caused a fungal disease of the foot. The result could mean amputation.


A battalion would serve on the frontline trench for a spell then move back to the reserve trench and repeat.

The officer would order his troops to ‘stand to’ with rifles ready, making them alert for a possible attack from the enemy who would come over ‘no man’s land’.


Soldier’s would suffer from boredom with little to do. They would write letters home while eating rations and trying to catch some sleep, which was difficult in such conditions.




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Daniel is a history geek who has written about all periods of history during his student days from Tokugawa Japan to the American revolution to the collapse of the Soviet Union. As an illustrator and writer he combines history with a fun and intriguing graphical style. Now he presents a book series for children who have a curiosity about the world around them and its rich past, in the form of his new series 'Simple History'. Send your Fanmail to me! to: