The First World War was initially planned as a series of swift advances by both sides, yet by the end of October 1914 the Western Front had congealed into a static, horrific trench war.
This book is concerned with the millions of men who fought along this desolate strip of land. For over four years they lived and died in an unimaginable hell of mud, craters, corpses, shattered villages and lifeless tree stumps, facing the constant threat of shells, gas and snipers, as well as monotony and squalor.
John Ellis's powerful study shows how men attempted to survive in this physical and spiritual desert, how they were able to formulate routines, rules and codes of conduct that could create some kind of order and meaning in the midst of chaos. He describes how trenches were designed and dug, the tactics of trench warfare, the day-to-day routines such as kit inspection and siting latrines, and even how the troops managed to entertain themselves.