The War in the Trenches

The rifle, machine gun and heavy artillery created a type of battlefield that has become popularly synonymous with the First World War.


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‘A muddy Christmas but no firing’: one of several photographs that appeared in a sober but positive assessment of the war, published on Christmas Day, 1915.

Two views of unidentified battlefields published in the magazine. The top image is a view through a sniper’s loophole, overlooking German trenches. It appears in a 1915 article that offers a bizarre combination of reportage on warfare and wildlife. The position was reached at considerable hazard, through a farmyard full of dead and rotting animals. Between periods of action, there are lyrical descriptions of birds. A golden oriole nest, for example, is spotted in the trees to the left. The bottom landscape by ‘an erstwhile subaltern’, was published as part of a letter in February 1916, with helpful annotations, such as ‘Boche trenches’, showing the enemy positions. 

‘Knife Rests’ by Edward Handley-Read, a painting by moonlight of wire protecting a British trench, from a 1916 exhibition review.

‘French infantry hunting out Huns from ruins on the Somme’, published in 1916.

A French and British band improvise in a rest area in 1917. Note the biscuit tin drum.