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World war 1 A Day In The Trenches Of WW I

Updated on August 29, 2014

A Day In The Trenches During World War One

Men fought together and men died together, the battles raged on and on and much blood was spilled. If you were lucky enough to survive the bullets, disease and infection were also on hand and took the lives of many a soldier.

Life in the trenches was never going to be easy and even in the chaos of battle the soldiers still had to follow a daily routine on top of keeping the enemy at bay.

Dodging bullets and enemy shell fire every minute of every day may have been routine enough for most of the soldiers but the trenches had to be maintained and fixed, if the soldiers were to try and increase their chances of survival, after all if the trenches were left alone they would quickly deteriorate and offer little or no protection from the enemy.

Trench Routine

German troops on the first "Stand too" of the day.
German troops on the first "Stand too" of the day. | Source

World War 1

Morning Routine In the Trenches

A soldier in the trenches would begin his day around one hour before sun up with the morning "Stand too" he would be woken up an sent to the "Fire step", with his bayonet attached to his rifle, on guard duty in case of a dawn raid from the enemy. Dawn raids were common in the trenches from both sides although it was common knowledge that both sides were prepared for them.

As daylight broke over the trenches, machine guns, Shells and even some hand guns would be fired toward the enemy lines, this was thought by most as a weapons test but others were of the opinion that it was a way for the soldiers to relieve some of the stress that was building up in side them. The first hour of daylight became known as "The morning Hate" by the men in the trenches.

After the morning "Stand too" the soldiers would be issued with a tot of rum before they cleaned their weapons before the morning inspection by senior officers.

With the inspection over it was time for breakfast, unofficially breakfast time in the trenches was a time of cease fire which both sides became to respect for most of the time. The truce was broken on some occasions though, usually when a senior officer new to the trenches heard about it and ordered the men to open fire on enemy lines.

After breakfast the soldiers would face an inspection by their commanding officer, this was followed by the daily chores, each man would be given a specific chore.

Daily chores included the refilling of sandbags, the repair of the duckboards on the floor of the trench or the draining of trenches, repairing the trenches and preparing the latrines.

Trench Repairs

One man takes time out to read as two men work on repairing some sand bags.
One man takes time out to read as two men work on repairing some sand bags. | Source

Afternoon Routine In The Trenches

During the afternoon, unless there was a heavy battle taking place the men in the trenches took it in turns to man the fire step. The men who were lucky enough not to be on guard duty were allowed some time to themselves to either catch up on some sleep, read or write letters from home or enjoy some games even although movement was restricted in the trenches.

Snipers were set up in lookout posts and would fire at the enemy and the first sight of movement, you had to keep your head down in the trenches no matter what you were doing for fear of being shot.

Opposing snipers used to play a game with each other raising a helmet above the trench to see if the enemy could hit it with a bullet.

Some inventive soldiers used the materials around them to make useful or ornamental objects which has since become known as trench art, trench art is highly collectible on the antique market today.

Daily Rest In The Trenches

Canadian soldiers manage to get a break and relax for a while in the trenches.
Canadian soldiers manage to get a break and relax for a while in the trenches. | Source

Evening Routine In The Trenches.

As darkness approached the men were sent on their second "Stand too" of the day again bayonets fixed in preparation for surprise attacks from enemy lines.

When the darkness of night came the trenches came to life, men were sent to the rear to bring up vital supplies such as food, ammunition, water, medical and maintenance equipment.

Unless there was a full scale battle going on the length of time a man was allowed to stay on the firing step was two hours before being replaced, this was in case he fell asleep on duty. Falling asleep at your post was a capital offence and could see the offender face death by firing squad.

Patrols into no-mans land would also be carried out under cover of darkness, to repair breaks in the barbed wire and some were sent out as "Listening posts" hoping to overhear information from the enemy.

Sometimes enemy patrols would meet in No Man's Land. They were then faced with the option of hurrying on their separate ways or else engaging in hand to hand fighting.

They could not afford to use their handguns whilst patrolling in No Man's Land, for fear of the machine gun fire it would inevitably attract, deadly to all members of the patrol.

The cover of darkness also allowed the front line troops to be changed over, those who had completed their tour of duty would be swapped over with fresh troops.

Then it was time to start the daily routine again with the morning "Stand too"


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    I have to do a video project on life in the trenches...this article helped me create a very accurate script. Thanks for posting this!

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    For my homework we have to do a model of a ww1 trench and this helped a lot thanks i have to do it by myself though cause my so called friend ditched me

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    'Ricardo' 6 years ago

    Why war? we are fighting us, we may be black or wight, fat or thin but we are one, we stand together to be strong, we are MAN

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    thanks for the information about trench life

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    That is brilliant thank you! I don't know what i would have done without it!:) You should make it into a book!:)x

  • jimmythejock profile image

    James Paterson 6 years ago from Scotland

    Hi Saraah, I wrote an article concerning writing a letter from the trenches hope it helps.....jimmy

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    Really good this! Very interesting:D! I'm have to wrote a letter from world war one back to home, know anything that would help?x

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    The World War 1 must have been terrifying to all who experienced it but a lot of heroes rose to that occasion.

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