Old Photos Show What WWI Trench Warfare Really Looked Like

Thought of as the “war to end all wars,” World War I left Europe in shambles, led to the deaths of over 9 million people, and drew in countries from every continent.

The pictures below are the work of an unknown photographer, and were left behind on glass plates in various archives by a Viscount in the Armored Cavalry Branch of the French Army. The photos evoke the lives and struggles of ordinary soldiers during the world’s first truly global war.

World War I was the most prominent example of trench warfare in history.
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Trench warfare resulted from a revolution in firepower that was not matched by advances in mobility.
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Because of this discrepancy, the defensive position always had a clear advantage in battle.
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The trenches, in which soldiers spent most of their time, were surrounded by razor wire to limit the effectiveness of an enemy trying to overrun the position.
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Trenches could be hundreds of miles long, and would require constant upkeep.
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They had special structures built for machine gunners.
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Here, French soldiers pose in a trench above Ablain-Saint-Nazaire on the Artois front in northern France.
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Outside of the trenches, soldiers built makeshift huts. This one was named “The Chalet.”
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Because of the lack of progress in combat mobility, this French Cavalry Corps was made up of bicyclists.
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Limits on the availability of motorized engines led to the use of pack animals. Here, a dog pulls a Belgian machine gun.
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Since meals ready to eat (MREs) were not yet invented, soldiers had to prepare their own food on the front lines.
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Since trench warfare often resulted in a stalemate, soldiers did their best to adjust to their sometimes monotonous lives in the field. Here, a soldier leaves a shower at the rear guard house by the front lines. The sign reads “Thermal complex of the Poilu, showers, massages, chiropodist, manicurist. Free massages for women. ”
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To boost morale, shows were also performed …
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… as was Mass.
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H/T BusinessInsider

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