A prevalent feeling among both the citizenry and the military was disillusionment. For, they had believed that the war begun in August, 1914, would be concluded by Christmas of that year. Instead, the war turned into a stalemate as neither the Germans nor the French could dislodge each other from the trenches.
Battlefields were hellish landscapes of barbed wire, shell holes,mud, and injured and dying men. One British writer described them in this manner:
I wish those people who write so glibly about this being a holy war could see a case of mustard gas...could see the poor things burnt and blistered all over with great mustard-coloured suppurating [pus-forming] blisters with blind eyes all sticky...and stuck together, and always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke.
The knowledge that neither side was going to drive out the other led to a malaise among the soldiers who spent dreary, lice-ridden days in muddy or dusty trenches. They developed a "live and let live" system based on this realization of a stalement. Such a system allowed no shelling of latrines and no attacking at breakfast time or on holidays. And, in an effort to relieve the malaise of long, empty and fearful days, troops often produced humor magazines to help pass the time and to provide laughter as a relief from the horrible conditions of this trench fighting in which multitudes lost their lives.