An interesting diagram showing the layout and design of WW1 trenches. And a colorized picture of the trenches from above.
Frontline trenches were usually about 7 feet deep and 6 feet wide. The front of the trench was known as the Parapet. The rear of the trench called the Parados. The top 2 or 3 feet of the parapet and parados would consist of a thick line of sandbags packed well together and intended to absorb any bullets or shell fragments.
In order to see over the top of the trench a 2 -3 foot ledge known as a Fire-step was added.
The trenches were dug in a zig-zag pattern. This was to prevent bullets, shells, and fragments from travelling along the straight line. Otherwise, if an enemy soldier reached the trench he would be able to fire right down the length of the trench. Each trench also had firebays and traverses to get out of the line of any fire, and to reach the parrallel trenches.
Boards were placed on the ground of the trenches to try and prevent problems with the wet conditions and mud, which the men would get stuck in and which led to problems such as trenchfoot.
Soldiers also made dugouts and funk holes in the side of the trenches to give them some protection from the weather and enemy fire.
Behind the front line trenches were support and reserve trenches. The 3 rows of trenches covered between 200 - 500 yards. Communication trenches were dug at an angle to the frontline ones and were used to transport men, equipment, and other supplies.
The frontline trenches were protected in front by barbed wire entanglements which could be several metres deep and separated the front line from No Man's Land, and also from behind by machine gun posts. ♠♠
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