Trenches where basically long holes that where just deep enough to cover the height of your body. The main purpose of digging these trenches was to supply reasonable cover form enemy fire. The trenches where often not in the best shape. The sides of these trenches often collapsed inwards causing a series safety hazard (the least of their worries). Trenches where often built in Zigzags so when the enemy captured the trench, they could not simply fire straight along the trench killing everyone. The trenches spread from the East to the West. By the end of 1914, trenches stretched all along the 475 miles front between the Swiss border and the Channel coast.
Daily Death in the Trenches
Death was a constant companion to those serving in the line, even when no raid or attack was launched or defended against. In busy sectors the constant shellfire directed by the enemy brought random death, whether their victims were lounging in a trench or lying in a dugout (many men were buried as a consequence of such large shell-bursts).
Similarly, novices were cautioned against their natural inclination to peer over the parapet of the trench into No Man's Land.
Many men died on their first day in the trenches as a consequence of a precisely aimed sniper's bullet.
It has been estimated that up to one third of Allied casualties on the Western Front were actually sustained in the trenches. Aside from enemy injuries, disease wrought a heavy toll.
Dead bodies littered the surrounding land, a constant reminder to the soldiers of their own mortality. Continuous artillery fire was heard from both sides of the trenches. This indecent noise was enough to drive anybody mad, which indeed it did. Often called 'shellshock', and now recognised as post-traumatic stress disorder, the constant firing and banging of the artillery shells caused some men to go a bit crazy, and resulted in them being unable to go 'over the top.'
The general conditions of the Trenches fought in during World War...