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In the trenches of WWI

young_soldier_asleep_in_trench

The experiences of the men and women on the ground in World War I were unlike those of any other conflict. From the officers and men on the ground to the nurses who tended to the wounded and dying, first-hand accounts from the battlefield give us a unique insight into the horrors of war.

The camaraderie between members of the same battalion, and even across the barbed wire with the German army, may surprise us all, not least because of the unique sense of humour and fun that often helped soldiers to survive the impossible dreadfulness of their predicament.

Daily life was hard, with meagre rations and challenging conditions. Letters from home were seized upon with great excitement, and it is the frequency of this communication that gives us a lot of our knowledge of what life was like under fire. In reality, the average Tommy only spent four or five days actually in the trenches, and the rest of the time was spent planning for attack or trying to take enemy positions.

Again, the real-life experiences of the men in this arena of war are best described by the men themselves, and many letters and diaries survive from which we can learn invaluable information about how the key battles of World War I were fought. Tales of bravery and sacrifice abound, some of which were rewarded with medals such as the Victoria Cross and some of which went unrecognised, but all of which are testament to the grit and determination of the British army in the First World War.

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