World History























Trench Warfare

Soldiers fought in trenches during World War I.

War had always been a battle of men. The Industrial Revolution turned war into a battle of machines.Five new technologies changed the nature of warfare: the airplane, the tank, the submarine, poison gas, and the machine gun. Of these, the machine gun was the most devastating. At the beginning of the war, generals familiar with an earlier style of combat hurled heroic cavalry and infantry charges against the enemy, but horses and human bodies offered little resistance to machine gun bullets.

As the first winter of the war approached, soldiers on the Western Front began digging hundreds of miles of muddy, rat-infested trenches where they tried to hide from machine guns and exploding artillery shells. Between the trenches lay a “ no man’s land” of barbed wire, shattered trees, shell craters, and rotting corpses. When ordered to attack, soldiers climbed out of their trenches, ran across no man’s land toward the enemy trenches, and were mowed down like fields of wheat by machine gun, rifle, and artillery fire. In just one engagement, the Battle of the Somme in northern France, 1,100,000 soldiers died. Young men were being slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands, and neither side was gaining ground.

trench warfare = a type of combat in which opposing troops fight from trenches facing each other. (A trench is a long, narrow ditch).

no man’s land = disputed ground between the front lines or trenches of two opposing armies.