Wal’s War: After the Allies capturing German trench, Walter Young admires its superiority...

The Allied trenches in the First World War were much less sophisticated than the German ones (below), says Walter Young
The Allied trenches in the First World War were much less sophisticated than the German ones (below), says Walter Young

The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is now less than a month away – the conflict having begun on July 28 100 years ago.

And in the latest extract of Walter Young’s memoirs, he describes what happened in the 1915 Battle of Loos after the Allies had captured a German trench...

‘This German trench was a splendid one. I should say about seven feet deep with the sides supported by a sort of latticework. On the floor of the trench duckboards were laid so that in rainy weather it drained off fairly well. At intervals were wooden covered stands to place rifles in to keep them from rust and mud.

‘Also in the fire parapet were numerous thick steel plates with tiny holes for the muzzle of the rifle to peep through so that the sniper could fire without exposing himself.

‘In all these particulars our own trenches were lacking. The Germans appeared to be more industrious than the British and more pains were taken to give their men every possible protection.

‘When we fired from over the top we were more or less exposed while they were secure behind their steel plates.

‘There were some very deep dugouts each having two entrances and about 15 steps leading down to them. Here and there lay a dead German.

‘The trench had been little damaged by the bombardment. One shallow dugout where I stayed for a time contained a large bed. On the floor was a large pool of blood.

‘I was told that a German, an officer’s servant, who had occupied it had refused to surrender when called upon and eventually they threw a bomb inside, hence the pool of blood.

‘But he must have been made of stern stuff to have resisted when the position was so hopeless.

The Germans shelled us in the afternoon and we retired to the deep dugouts where we were practically safe. The weather was now wet and unpleasant.

‘On our left, in the direction of the village of Loos, a good gain of ground had been made, about a mile I should say. Beyond Loos there is a rise known as Hill 70 and our troops had been unable to gain the top.

‘The dug in on the slope but were heavily shelled. The word went round that the Guards were coming up to take that hill at four o’clock. After a short bombardment they attacked...

Find out how Wal’s journey continued in future extracts that will be published on this website.