Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source8
Notices sent out to British Army units, 1916-17
(Catalogue ref: a. WO 95/2756, b. WO 95/2686)
  • These notices come from 1916-17 from the western front.
  • Source 8a points 1-5 give us an excellent sense of the daily routine in and around the trenches. This notice describes duties in front line trenches, but in a relatively quiet time.
  • British commanders were very aware of how hard life was in the front line trenches. They worked very hard to shuffle their troops to lessen the strain on them. Most British soldiers spent 4-5 days per month in the firing line (usually 2 days at any one stretch), before being replaced by other soldiers from their battalion who were held in reserve. This treatment was far better than the treatment of German or French troops.
  • On average soldiers spent about 60% of their time in or near the front lines, the rest of it well behind the lines. Football became a highly organised obsession for many of the units and there were other entertainments as well.
  • These factors help to explain why the British Army generally had good morale and suffered very little from mutiny.
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