The First World War was the first global conflict that made use of what we would consider to be ‘modern’ weapons. No longer were the Cavalry and the sword the most potent weapons on the battlefield. It was now a case of the machine gun and a gas canister taking control of the battle.
Trenches came about as a result of the German General Erich von Falkenhayn ordering his men to dig in to stop the Allies from advancing any further. Unable to break through this line of German defences the British and French had little option but to defend themselves by digging trenches themselves: otherwise the Germans would have been able to counter attack with ease.
Trenches were not nice places to live and fight in. They were often waterlogged, and had little if any comforts such as heating and toilets. Much of the time the trenches were as little as 40 metres away from the enemy and the method of attack was to ‘go over the top’ of the trench and charge at the opposing trench. Millions died as machine guns cut through most soldiers well before they reached the trenches.