Conisbrough & Denaby Main
Heritage Group
 
 
Daily Routine in the Trenches

Different areas had differing routines mainly because the allied soldiers were of different nationalities, however they did share many similarities.    
The routine was rotated, from fighting on the front line they would then have a period in the reserve or support trench and later a short rest period.  However, those in the reserve trenches could often be called upon to go back into the Front Line.   In the Front Line, Sentry duty would last for two or three hours before new men were put in place.  

Maintenance of the Trenches was paramount and this usually took place during the day when there were quiet periods.   Shell damage needed to be repaired, collapsed walls rebuilt, standing water to be removed and of course the latrines would need moving on a regular timeframe. Supplies would also be moved around during this time.                                                                         

The Stretcher Bearers, Snipers and Machine Gunners would be exempt from performing these duties as they needed rest to be able to perform well when called upon.

  
Life in the Trenches
The enemy was not the only dread for those in the trenches, nature could be just as deadly.  Heavy rainfall would flood the trenches and make it difficult when trying to get from one place to another.   The thick, deep mud trapped many soldiers and unable to get themselves out they sometimes drowned.  Other dangers involved the trench walls collapsing and rifles jamming and so many soldiers became victims of the horrors of 'trench foot' caused by standing in filthy often foul water for hours on end, even days without being able to put on dry socks and boots.   In extreme cases the toes or the whole foot would have to amputated because gangrene had set in.
Heavy rain was no help in washing away the filth and the foul smell of bodies that were decaying or the smell of human waste.  These conditions brought in plagues of rats to share the trenches with those fighting, often feeding from the remains of the dead.  These conditions also fed the swarms of flies that were everywhere and persistent, not to forget the head and body lice, mites and scabies.
  
It is impossible for us to imagine what life in the trenches was really like, we just weren't there.   No anti-biotics, no way of getting rid of the lice and certainly no way of getting rid of the flies or the horrendous smell.  On top of all this there was the regular bombardments from the enemy trenches with dozens of shells bursting every second in front, behind and within the actual trenches causing confusion at best, injury and death at  worst.  There was no quiet.  The noise was deafening and terrifying, you think "This is it".   The quick flash of a loved one's face.  Few could remain calm under such circumstances.  This was absolute terror. 
Many suffered severe psychological trauma but carried on fighting,  some ran away, not cowards, just overwhelmed by the sounds, the sights and the smell.  Those who ran were treated as deserters and so were shot.                                         
 It was not until near the end of the war when special hospitals were built to take in those who were seriously, mentally damaged.  The majority went home to their families who were unaware when they so happily greeted their husbands, sons and fathers that these men were not the same men who had left home months before. Most would never be the same again.
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