French soldiers resting in the trenches


French soldiers resting in the trenches


Trenches like these extend across France for 450 miles, from Switzerland to the North Sea. Two million soldiers hold them day and night. As trench warfare developed, caves were dug into the walls at intervals, lined with timber, roofed, floored, heated and lighted. From these, steps descended into bomb-proof shelters, 30 feet underground. German trenches captured at Avre were lined with cement, lighted with electricity, and decorated with expensive rugs, fine furniture and works of art, looted from the captured cities of France and Belgium. Communicating trenches are dug at right angles leading to second and third rows of supporting trenches parallel to the first line and all connected with headquarters by telephone, the wires plainly visible on the wall to the left; in the trench before us. Soldiers in the first line trenches endure the greatest hardships. There is no place for them to rest except upon the bare ground at the bottom of the trench and in the rainy seasons this becomes liquid mud. They are exposed to the rain, snow and sleet, and must sit for hours huddled up in their greatcoats, wet and miserable. Sometimes for days the dead cannot be removed—living men stumble over the putrefying corpses, fighting in filth and slime indescribable. Ceaselessly a storm of bullets whines over the top of the trench. Continually their ears are stunned by the roar of big guns and the bursting of shells. The stench is almost unbearable. Vermin crawl over them in myriads. For hours at a time there is nothing to do, yet they must always be on the alert, especially at night, for that is the time for bombing parties and trench raids. The listening posts are manned by soldiers with every sense alive to catch the first sound of the enemy's stealthy approach.



1 stereograph : b&w
1 gelatine silver print stereograph (8 x 15 cm) mounted on card (9 x 18 cm)


Copyright. The Keystone View Company
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World War through the stereoscope

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Keystone View Company, “French soldiers resting in the trenches,” Monash Collections Online, accessed May 26, 2024,

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