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Life in the trenches was fun.

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Life in the Trenches was Fun World War I was fought in the trenches, which were ditches dug out of the ground to give the soldiers protection from enemy artillery and machine gun fire. The front line trenches were generally about six or seven feet deep and six feet wide, with sand bags lining the upper two or three feet to absorb bullets or shell fragments. The bottoms of the trenches were lined with duckboards. Opposing armies faced each other across "No Man's Land", that measured anything from seven yards to two hundred and fifty yards in width and was covered with barbed wire and mines. So were the trenches pleasant places, where soldiers idled away their time happily between battles, or were they hellish pits of death and despair? We can look at letters and documents written at the time and the recollections of soldiers, who experienced trench warfare. "The stench of dead bodies now is awful, as they have been exposed to the sun for several days, many are swollen and burnt. ...read more.


The men were undoubtedly undernourished and some were even starving. Also, they were after all expected to eat these meagre rations in waterlogged, rat infested, lice ridden trenches, surrounded by the stench of decomposing bodies. Little wonder then that dysentery was widespread, causing stomach pains and diarrhoea, accompanied sometimes by vomiting and fever. Latrines were dug four or five feet deep, but sometimes, men had to use the nearest shell hole. Unfortunately, supplies of water were irregular and a soldier had to depend on contaminated water collected from these same shell holes. Many men also suffered shell shock, caused by the enemy's incessant heavy artillery. Beginning with headaches, tiredness and giddiness, it often developed into a complete mental breakdown. Yet, the men suffering from shell shock were often labelled as cowards and sent back to the trenches, where some committed suicide, whilst others deserted, were court-martialled and shot. It seemed to many that there was no way out of the trenches other than death and some did kill themselves. ...read more.


Merry it was to laugh there - Where death becomes absurd and life absurder. For power was on us as we slashed bones bare Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder Wilfred Owen's poem 'Apologia Pro Poemate Meo' (1917) Life in the trenches was hellish, chaotic and absurd. There was no fun only madness and despair. War poems, War novels, and War memoirs frequently describe scenes of misplaced, mad mirth. There was the infernal grin in the faces of soldiers who died in greatest pain,59 and there was the frequent dementia due to shell-shock and gas-raids.60 But these appeared as mere related symptoms of a more universal disease, the total loss of order. Isaac Rosenberg, the most visionary of all the trench poets, wrote consciously uncoordinated poems evoking scenes of trench life as "a demons' pantomime" with men "flung on the shrieking pyre"61, with "grinning faces" and "yelling in lurid glee".62 In 'Dead Man's Dump', the speaker wildly addresses a merely mad earth, which had formerly been seen as the divine seedground of the dialectics of birth, death, and resurrection: ...read more.

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