Life in the Trenches Warfare of World War I

World War 1 Trench Warfare

During wars, we will be seeing men deployed to a specific place, leaving their wives and children. Imagine the struggle of being away from home. It feels like you are sent to your own death. However, soldiers already have these consequences yet they continue to serve their country wholeheartedly.


A tall building in a city

Positional warfare requires fortifications in battle. Armored warfare and combined arms tactics – weapons and methods that afford mobility in battle — were not yet well developed during World War 1. This situation gave rise to the need for trenches, especially during battles when the opposing sides end up in a stalemate.

In 1914, the failed attempt of the German forces to ensure a quick victory against the French army in Marne pushed both sides to dig into trenches and caused a bloody war of attrition that lasted for three years. This is what made trench warfare a historical feature of World War 2 combat tactics.

Trenches are long narrow ditches that serve not only as a shield against enemy artillery attacks but also as temporary basecamps.

Trenches as Basecamps

A bridge over a body of water

Each competing camp would dig a network of trenches. The space between the competing trenches is called the “No Man’s Land”. War historians also call this space “the Killing Zone.”

Soldiers assigned in military trenches follow a routine each day. At daybreak, they conduct a Stand-to-Arms action as they scan the immediate horizon for enemies. They eat breakfast at 7 am, clean themselves, their weapons, and the trenches at 8 am. They eat dinner at noon, then conduct the Stand-to-Arms activity again at dusk, and then they work all night.

Most of the fighting tasks required by trench warfare mostly took place at night. Fighters normally took advantage of the darkness to do patrols, dig trenches, put up barbed wire fences, and get stores. Soldiers slept only during the afternoon, with each man sleeping an hour every night.

Disease and Death

As trenches were muddy, confined, uncomfortable, and the toilets overflowed, soldiers developed medical problems such as trench foot. To make life bearable, infantrymen wrote letters to their families or played cards during their free time.

Trench warfare has represented the futility of war. Most men sent to attack enemy trenches on the opposite side were killed. Those who survived were badly maimed or wounded. In flims, World War 1 generals are often portrayed as too inflexible and stubborn to recognize the hopelessness of attacks on trenches. Most of these movies and literature depicting battles in trenches expose the tragedy of the lives needlessly lost to war.


Living in trenches is a struggle. They are muddy and flooded, so imagine living on this to survive. Soldiers were often sleeping beside rats and lice had grown in their hairs. Also, the smell was a struggle, but never for them. They were immune to all the dirt, smell, and flood. All in these for the glory of their country. If you have more facts about the great World War I, comment down below!

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