Diversity of trench experiences

However every single day was not an exercise in horror. Frontline existence was actually one of boredom, interrupted by bursts of terror. An ordinary day would be spent in small, dank dugouts, where the soldier would make tea, lunch on bully beef, or ‘chat’ – which meant both delousing and gossip. At night, the trenches came alive. Under the cover of darkness, the troops would be replaced; carrying parties would replenish supplies and small parties sent out to conduct trench-raids or repair wires. However, there was no one trench experience: it varied according to the rank, the sector, the unit; life as a private was different from that as an officer. Daily experience also differed, from being sheltered in underground bunkers (with the occasional piano!) – the Germans had deeper and more comfortable bunkers – or playing with the dog, to standing knee-deep in mud. Moreover, if one visited Ypres in wartime, one would have seen not just European troops, but Senegalais tirailleurs, Indian sepoys, North African spahis, the Maori Pioneer Battalion or Chinese and South African labourers. An Indian sepoy wrote: ‘Our hearts are breaking, for a year has passed while we have stood to arms without a rest. .. We have bound ourselves under the flag and we must give our bodies’. – See more at: http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/sensuous-life-in-the-trenches#sthash.u60Ro9Xu.dpuf

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