Trench warfare at school

Year 9 students involved in the trench project.
Year 9 students involved in the trench project.
The trench takes shape.

The trench takes shape.

WHAT was it like to fight in a trench during World War 1?

What was it like to live in a trench? 

With no surviving veterans alive from World War 1 in Australia, fewer and fewer people can answer these questions with certainty. 

At Bombala High School this week year 9, 11 and 12 are doing their best to recreate a lost part of history when they reconstruct two WW1 trenches. 

Bombala High history teacher Kaitlin Morrison said the students have a new found energy for studying WWI with the planning and construction of trenches. 

“This project has been underway since the end of last term so it has two months of research and planning,” Miss Morrison said. 

“Some of our students have just come back from a visit to the Western Front so they have a good idea of what they are going to look like.” 

Today, the students will begin building ladders and duckboards to be used and in the trenches on tomorrow they will begindigging their trenches. 

Local volunteer Russell Carey has been generously commenced the digging the outline of the trenches so they can complete the task in a day. 

According to British trench guidelines during WW1 it took nearly six hours for 450 men to construct 250 metres of trench. 

Trenches were generally two metres deep and two metres wide and were never built in straight lines but zigzagged to prevent enemy troops from simply firing down the length of trench lines. 

By tomorrow afternoon the students are expected to have completed their two trenches and begin a mock-battle where they will play out three different battle scenarios. 

Miss Morrison said the practical experience of building a trench for mock-warfare is an important tool for bringing the reality of what WW1 soldiers faced with during battle. 

“With this project they will have to logically work out how they are going to get across to no-mans land how hard it’s going to be to not get shot and how to get home alive,” she said. 

“They have also discussed the different terrains that trenches were built in Gallipoli and at the Western Front.

“This has been an important practical tool for learning about history, especially for the boys.” 

Miss Morrison said they are still undecided whether the trenches will remain in place. 

“I think we will decide on the day if we will leave the trenches where they are,” he said. 

“We have already had someone volunteer to put drainage in the trenches so that they can stay in place.” 

Bombala Primary School are planning to watch mock-battle on Thursday and members of the public are invited the event which will be located at the end of Queens Street.


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