Source: WWI National Museum and Memorial
World War I was largely defined by its trench warfare, a brutal military tactic that saw opposing forces bunkered down in dug out trenches in opposing lines with a short open field filled with barbed wire and open to enemy fire known as No Man's Land stretched between. Those fighting in the trenches faced terrible conditions, with knee high mud, constant shelling, gas bombs, and disease rampant throughout the trenches. Read through the resources below to learn more about this military style.
World War I was a war of trenches. After the early war of movement in the late summer of 1914, artillery and machine guns forced the armies on the Western Front to dig trenches to protect themselves. Fighting ground to a stalemate. Over the next four years, both sides would launch attacks against the enemy’s trench lines, attacks that resulted in horrific casualties. Read through this article to learn more.
Although there had been some trench warfare in the American Civil War of 1861 - 65, and the Russian-Japanese War of 1904 - 05, it wasn't until the First World War that fixed trench warfare became the standard form of fighting. The trench system along the Western Front ran for approximately 475 miles, in an "S" shape across Europe, from the North Sea to Switzerland. Read through this website to learn more about trench warfare.
On the Western Front, the war was fought by soldiers in trenches. Trenches were long, narrow ditches dug into the ground where soldiers lived. They were very muddy, uncomfortable and the toilets overflowed. Read through this website to learn mroe about life in the trenches, including videos and images.
Life in the trenches during the First World War took many forms, and varied widely from sector to sector and from front to front. Read through this website to learn more.
During trench warfare, opposing armies conduct battle, at a relatively close range, from a series of ditches dug into the ground. Trench warfare becomes necessary when two armies face a stalemate, with neither side able to advance and overtake the other. Although trench warfare has been employed since ancient times, it was used on an unprecedented scale on the Western Front during World War I. Read through this article to learn more.
This website has a great breakdown of how a trench looked and operated, with lots of diagrams and pictures.
Trench life involved long periods of boredom mixed with brief periods of terror. The threat of death kept soldiers constantly on edge, while poor living conditions and a lack of sleep wore away at their health and stamina. Click through the headings on this website to learn more about trench conditions.
After the German march on Paris was halted at the First Battle of the Marne, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France. The Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, with a trench line that changed little until 1917. Read through this website to learn more.
One image above all dominates the memory of the war on theWestern Front — that of the trenches. For most of the war, after the initial more fluid battles of late 1914 and before the more open warfare that began in March 1918, the Allies and the Germans engaged in a long period of static war. From the North Sea off Belgium to the Swiss border, there stretched through Belgium and France major lines of defence which, at periodic intervals, each side would try to break through in the search for a decisive victory Read through this fact sheet to learn more.
For most people, the phrase ‘First World War’ conjures up images of deep, waterlogged trenches and mud-spattered soldiers. But what was trench life really like? In this episode, those who survived it describe their experiences. The trenches could be a shock to those who knew little about them in advance. Read through first hand accounts of trench warfare to learn more.
The Christmas Truce has become one of the most famous and mythologised events of the First World War. But what was the real story behind the truce? Why did it happen and did British and German soldiers really play football in no-man's land? Read through this article to learn more.