Category Archives: WW1 Trench Warfare

Life Underground

Caves World War 1

French Soldiers Resting in a Deep Underground Shelter

As the war developed into a relative stalemate, each side dug extensive networks of trenches. Initially the trenches were just crude ditches, but as time went on they became permanent living quarters as well as defensive positions. Deep underground shelters were dug to provide protection to troops from enemy artillery. Sometimes the trenches ran through areas of naturally occurring cave systems and soldiers took advantage of the existing formations and became cave dwellers.


Here in the damp darkness the men could rest, write letters and enjoy a little respite from the horrors on the surface. This photo shows French soldiers resting an underground cave. Most of them are sleeping or lying down on cots lining the walls of the cave; one of the men is writing a letter home by the dim light of this cave. As bleak as this home was at least it afforded relative safety.

Gas Attack Early Warning Station

gas warfarePoison gas was one of the more appalling weapons developed during world war 1. First used by the Germans, gas killed or maimed soldiers in horrific ways: it burned their lungs and eyes and those who survived suffered lifelong effects and disabilities. To avoid it, soldiers were equipped with gas masks but they could not be warn at all times, so survival depended on being able to put on the mask soon enough, to avoid lethal exposure.

The soldier in this photograph is manning an alarm station. At the first sign of a gas attack, it was his job to sound the alarm by cranking a loud siren which would warn his fellow soldiers that they only had seconds to get their gas masks on.