Im Michael Newbury, and I work as a medic here in Belgium. I want to tell you about those
poor soldiers fighting in the trenches up on the front line. Somebody needs to tell their story
because many of them are getting injured or killed serving the Allies. Im a good person to
tell that story because I see these men nearly every day when I make my run up to the front
to pick up the wounded and the dead.
First, Ill give a general description of the trench system. There are three parallel rows of
trench lines: the front line, the support line, and the reserve line. Communications trenches
have been dug to connect these lines to one another. The other medics and I use these
trenches to get from the reserve line, where we are stationed, to the front line, where the
heavy fighting goes on. The trenches are usually 6 to 10 feet deep. The support line is usually
some 70 to 100 yards behind the front line, and the reserve line is another 400 to 600 yards
behind the support line. Each line of trenches has barbed wire running in front of it.
Now Ill tell you about the front-line trenches, where no one would ever want to be. The first
thing you notice about them is how muddy they are and how badly they smell. Staying clean
and dry in these trenches is impossible. The soldiers must get used to having wet feet and a
uniform plastered in mud. Its impossible to escape the horrible smell, which comes from too
many soldiers, many of them ill or injured, living too closely to one another for too long a
time. Most of the time, these soldiers stay in dug-out sections of the trench walls. Each of
these sections has a roof supported by wooden posts on each side. When they are not fighting,
soldiers spend a lot of time talking or sleeping.
Beyond the front-line trenches lies an area called no-mans-land. This blasted section of
blackened and smoking mud is marked by craters of all sizes and is usually between 100 and
400 yards wide. Just across it are the trenches of the Germans.
Nobody should have to live or die in those wretched trenches, where survival requires both
superhuman effort and blind luck. I truly believe that the brave men who serve in the front-line
trenches are the wars greatest heroes, as well as its greatest victims.