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Trenches In World War 1


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#1 Lucky Baby 88

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 07:34 PM

Hi was wondering if you could help me i am stuck on a particular part of my work

It is about Trenches In World War 1, How many lines of trenches did each side have?

Please Help Kirsten

#2 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 09:45 PM

Hi was wondering if you could help me i am stuck on a particular part of my work

It is about Trenches In World War 1, How many lines of trenches did each side have?

Please Help Kirsten


When in doubt, do a forum search, on 'trenches' for example. There is loads on here. This thread might be a good place to start.

The short answer is 'three'; there is a simple diagram on this very site in this worksheet, and two more complicated ones from the First World War section of History On the Net. Spartacus Schoolnet has a really useful diagram here.

Bear in mind, that actually trench systems were often much more complicated than just three lines of trenches. If you need more detail, the Long Long Trail website has an excellent page here.

#3 Lucky Baby 88

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 06:14 PM

Thank You For The Help

#4 Lucky Baby 88

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 07:18 PM

Another thing i am stuck with is why would there be more than one line of trench, what were the communication trenches used for and why would the trenches be at least 2 meters deep.

Hope You Can Help

#5 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 07:52 PM

Another thing i am stuck with is why would there be more than one line of trench, what were the communication trenches used for and why would the trenches be at least 2 meters deep.

Hope You Can Help

There were multiples lines of trenches so that, if you got driven out of the front line trench, you would fall back to the second line trench (which would then become your front line trench) and so on.

Communication trenches were the short trenches from one line of trenches to the next, so you didn't have to go over the top to move between trenches.

Why would the trenches be at least 2 metres deep - how tall is a man, and what would happen to his head if it stuck up out of the trench?

#6 Lucky Baby 88

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 08:28 PM

Thank You

#7 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 10:31 PM

Another thing i am stuck with is why would there be more than one line of trench. Hope You Can Help


(It's lovely to work with such a polite student.)

Just to add to Mr. Clare's answer, I am going to try to distinguish between trench systems and lines of trenches. As the diagrams show, a trench system generally consisted of three lines of trenches. The front line or 'main fire trench' was the first line (holding some of an infantry unit's soldiers) and would hopefully stop enemy attacks. Behind it was a 'support line' where most of the rest of the unit would be, including the headquarters' dugouts, signallers etc. You didn't put all your troops in the first line because if it was shelled heavily by enemy heavy guns, you probably wouldn't have any soldiers left to fight with. The troops in the support line would also stop enemy attacks. Then there was a third 'reserve line'. Here you would have a reserve of soldiers who would be able to counter-attack to recover any lost trenches. This is very simplified but essentially correct. If the first two lines were taken by the enemy, the reserve line might stop them.

However, even if you managed to break through all three lines, which was very difficult, then in front of you would be another trench system, again of three lines. By 1916, German defences had three or four trench systems covering about two miles. By 1917 trench system defences were even deeper.

Is it surprising that it took so long to break the stalemate?




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