World War One was being fought on the land, on the seas, to some degree in the air and…..very definitely, IN the ground. This war was a trench war. A very intricate system of trenches stretched for hundreds of miles across France from the English Channel to the French Alps. And the line of trenches on the Allies’ side was matched with a line of trenches on the German side, the space between them being known as “no man’s land”.
There are many words in our vocabulary that originate from the WWI trenches: “over the top'”…it meant to charge up out of the trench and into battle. The original “trench coat” was developed by the British as a water-proof outer coat that would provide a soldier protection from the elements while in the trenches. There were epaulets that denoted an officer’s rank. The coats were of a subdued khaki color….”khaki” being a Hindi word for “dust”.
Those trenches didn’t just happen….they had to be planned and dug. Dug manually. Accordingly, soldiers were trained in developing trench plans, adjusting them to local situations. The soldiers needed to learn about to actually dig the trenches. So….Jay and his fellow soldiers would have had quite a bit of training in planning and digging trenches.
Some trench training photos from Camp Devens: