Life In The Trenches Of World War I

1945 words - 8 pages

From early in the war, in May of 1914, Blunden recalled his experience in the trenches of France. Structured with sandbag walls, the Old British Line in which the men were stationed was only a frail comfort, as the trenches were often only one row deep with no additional protection against debris caused by artillery shells. Communication between the between the front line and the Old British Line was provided some covered by through the Cover Trench, although Prior’s account of returning from The Island, the front line, states that he had to pause every two minutes to lay in a ditch along the road to avoid the infamous German machine guns. The Germans bombarded the Cover Trench with heavy fire and large shells over the farmhouse and its residents, including children. Because the Germans were known for using gas, Blunden and his men underwent training to prepare for attacks. After completing this course, he was sent to the dugout near Cuinchy Keep, which was described as “dirty, bloodthirsty and wearisome,” primarily due to the number of mines which had already been exploded, and that it was not completely finished. However, when fighting in the trenches, “There was nothing for it but to copy experience, and experience was nothing but a casual protection.”
While marching on the dusty road towards Thièvres, the battalion faced hills and forest along with the scorching heat of the sun; therefore, many of the men fell out of line, so to keep the pace, higher ranking officials would carry two or three rifles. After reaching Somme, heavy rain and German shells began to flood upon the men. The British communications trench, was reduced to ash from a direct hit, although the train station survived the attack, allowing for a slower form of communication to still be in use. Jacob’s Ladder, was a long trench that was well fortified trench in most places. The surrounding area provided a combination of occasional beauty, due to the abundance of shrubbery and few cattle, and bleakness, from the ruins of the abandoned city and the deep, prevalent mud, and the high ground South of the Ancre was covered with smoke and trees which looked like charcoal.
Although, Blunden was first inspired to write about the command structure earlier in the war, while holding Jerusalem Crater, stating, “One man’s mind was more filled with one’s relation to superior beings behind us than to those who were not losing the war in front of us,” showing that even when bombs were exploding beside young officers, they were constantly waiting for permission before returning fire or answering urgent demands from headquarters about returning shovels. He mentions it again, in a different light, while at Somme when referring to The Colonel. The Colonel was a fearless anchor amongst the men as he walked undaunted among the ruins which “chilled [Blunden’s] spirit” as he explained to Harrison, focusing on the details, the layout spoke calmly of the bombings, and of the amount of work...

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