02 Oct But the most intimate and persistent enemy to the trench soldier, was privation, and the weather.
But the most intimate and persistent enemy to the trench soldier, was privation, and the weather. Nothing to see but bare mud walls, nowhere to sit but on a wet muddy ledge, no shelter of any kind against the weather except the clothes they wore, and no exercise even for warmth. When it rained the trenches became dykes, icy water, submerging duckboards rose to ankle, knee, even thigh depth. Long periods of immersion caused the men’s feet to swell until keeping their boots on was torture, while taking them off produced worse results, for then they could not be replaced. At night soaked puttees and trousers froze stiff while the troops huddled in shell holes, and scraped in the trench walls. Officers and senior n.c.o.s occupied larger holes known as dug-outs. Simple comforts such as smoking or lighting fires for warmth were prohibited because smoke would give away their position to the enemy. Until 1916, when steel helmets were introduced, the troops wore woolen helmets. Trench life was a daily routine of bleak discomfort.
The area of land in-between the allied lines and that of the enemy was called No Mans Land, for anyone caught in the open there was almost always shot and killed by snipers.