What did soldiers face in the trenches of World War I?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Life in the trenches was a miserable existence for both sides. The most dangerous part of the job was when you were ordered to attack the enemy positions. This usually happened before dawn or sunset. The danger in attacking lied in the fact that the enemy was dug in and you were running across an open field. The enemy had snipers and machine gun fire and your chance of making it across was very slim.

Even when you were not attacking,  the enemy would shell your position in the trenches. You were constantly facing death in this way and it was very random like a lottery of destruction.  So in the boredom that you faced in the trenches, you had the specter of death haunting you at every moment.

Even when there was no action, life in the trenches was miserable. The moisture in the trenches caused the skin on your feet to rot.  This was a common condition known as trench foot. In addition to your fellow soldiers in the trenches you also lived amongst rats and other rodents. The stench of the trenches was enough to make you sick.  It was not uncommon for soldiers to die of illness due to the unsanitary conditions.