Reconstruction of a trench
To protect themselves from the enemy's shell bombardments and artillery fire, the troops dug themselves into the ground. There, amid the dirt and mud, soldiers sheltered in appalling conditions with two or three men to a hole. Gradually, these holes became connected to each other by communication trenches and soon, as the holes were dug progressively deeper, soldiers were able to walk upright and move about more safely. Over the course of the war, nearly ten thousand kilometres of trenches were dug on the French side alone. Trenches were muddy, dirty and unhealthy places. Men lived alongside corpses and rats, leading to the spread of diseases. The health of the soldiers also deteriorated, made worse by the lack of food. Often, supplies never reached the front lines. An iconic symbol of the Great War, the trenches are a testament to the horror of this conflict.