Tag Archives: trenches

That is war

Months ago now the great battle of Loos was raging and we were marching up to take our part. As we marched from Bethune up the wide road, which was packed with transport, ambulances and cavalry, a long stream of wounded were moving painfully down the road, leaving the battle. They plodded bravely along, some with large red-stained bandages over their heads, others with bleeding legs, shattered arms, or fractured bones. Some would collapse exhausted by the side of the road, urged in vain by their comrades to keep moving. This ghostly procession appeared to be never-ending. As we passed a dressing-station a man was being brought in on a stretcher, suffering from gas, struggling so violently to get air into his poisoned lungs that the bearers could scarcely manage to keep him on the stretcher. Up the road we marched in column of route, a battalion a thousand strong. And were merged into the battle and eaten up by it. After three days we too were on the return journey; having lost many of our own comrades, some of them left on the battle field, some gassed, others broken in limb or mind by the inferno of shell-fire.
Desolate villages, ruined homes, the ghostly echo of treading feet and the rattle of transport past the gaunt remnant of houses, and a pervading bleakness and depressing solitude.

That is war.

Excerpt from Life among the Sandbags by Hugo Morgan

Trench Feet

 

The Army Handbook in 1914 has a useful paragraph telling soldiers how to care for their feet:-

To prevent sore feet cleanliness and strict attention to the fitting of boots and socks are necessary. Before marching the feet should be washed with soap and water and carefully dried. The inside of the socks should be well rubbed with soft or yellow soap. After the march the feet must be again washed and clean dry socks put on. Soaking the feet in salt or alum and water hardens the skin. The nails should be cut straight across and not too close. A blister will probably be occasioned by an unevenness or hole in the sock, or an unevenness in the lining of the boot; the cause therefore should be ascertained and removed. The edge of a blister should be pricked with a needle and the fluid drained away by gently pressing the blister; a small pad of cotton wool or soft rag should be applied, and kept in place by a small piece of sticking plaster. Men are cautioned against getting boots too small for them. Continue reading Trench Feet