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Trench Warfare

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French trenches

 

Even massive offensives found it nearly impossible to break through the defensive trenches. An infantry assault against protected machine guns usually resulted in many dead infantry and little or no gain in territory.

The trenches were frequently waterlogged because of the nature of the soil they were built in. The water could not pass through clay soil and if there was sand on top, the trenches flooded when it rained. Collapsing trenches were a constant problem.

Front line trenches were about 7 feet deep and about 6 feet wide, frequently cut into a zigzag pattern so the enemy could not shoot down the trench. There were sandbags at the top to stop the bullets. In front of the trenches were lines of barbed wife to stop enemy troops. The area between combatant trenches was called no man's land.

There were support and reserve trenches behind the front lines, with communication trenches connecting them to trenches at the front.

Life in the trenches at the western front was cold, wet and filled with rats, who fed on corpses.


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