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Trenches and Dugouts


Anchor: Living, sleeping, eating and waiting for the enemy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all this from the comfort of a hole in the ground…

Kenneth Garbutt: The battlefield itself, it was sort of like trench warfare. They were in trenches, in foxholes if you want to call it that, but they were... that was their home, that's where they slept, that's where they did everything.
(Soldiers in the Trenches)

Raymond Tremblay: Two months at the front meant two months in the trenches every night.

Marcel Joanisse: The trenches weren't very wide and they were something like four feet long.
(Narrow trenches)

A fighting trench was four feet deep and a communication trench was eight feet deep. You could walk around without getting shot.
(Soldiers on guard in fighting trench)
(Soldier in Communication trench)

Jean-Paul Savary: We stayed in the trenches like rats. They were all dug out by hand.
(Soldiers digging trenches by hand)

Marcel Joanisse: It was hard to dig. And the shovels they gave us were not very big. A little shovel about that big.

Yvan Paquin: We took . . . eight foot posts normally used to lay down barbed wire. We put some on top . . . one row . . . three rows. And then we tied it down with communication wire, black wire. And then we stacked sand bags, two or three rows.
(Trenches stacked with sandbags)

Jean-Paul Savary: A dugout is something to see! Very, nice. Four beautiful dirt walls.

Henry Schreyer: You walked up one step which was probably about eleven, twelve inches high and then you walked down four into the bunker where two of us could sleep. And in between us I had my Bren machine gun pointing at this door, which was a blanket.
(Soldier walking from a bunker)

Yvan Paquin: Three or four rows of metal and sand bags on top are enough to contain a mortar bomb. But with an artillery bomb, a 42-pounder that makes a six-foot-deep hole, you'd have ended up under the sand bags and the metal.
(Bomb fire)

Charles Belzile: From the time that, even before the cease-fire, because the actions had been so stable that a lot of defensive lines have been built up, and by then there'd be deep bunkers and railroad ties over your head and about ten feet of earth. It could take quite a bombing before it got down to you.
(Deep bunkers heightened with sandbags)

Kenneth Garbutt: And seeing the pictures of World War One remind me of Korea at that particular time.

Charles Trudeau: When you're in a trench, you're watching the enemy, and you stay alert; otherwise, they sneak up on you and kill you or take you prisoner, anything can happen.
(Patrolling from a trench)

Charles Belzile: Eventually it becomes a bit routine. That's dangerous. You don't want things to ever get to be too routine because you get despondent, you get careless.

Charles Trudeau: We had a regiment who had stacked its weapons in a pile to go and eat. When they came back, the Chinese were waiting for them with their own weapons.
(Soldiers talking amongst each other)

Roland Boutot: And you couldn't belch out there. And you couldn't do other stuff either, so that the Chinese wouldn't hear you.

Ronald Guertin: You couldn't smoke because of the snipers and stuff. But once in a while, you know, like if it was cold and it was four in the morning and there was nothing moving around you, you'd take a chance and light a cigarette.
(Sitting covered up in a hole in the snow-covered ground)

Raymond Tremblay: And when it rained, it all turned to mud and shit. Real muck you know. That's what the trenches were like.

John Tupper: We used to always say, keep your slit trench clean and dry. Make sure, you know, to bail the water out of it if it's raining.
(Soldiers taking cover in a slit trench)

Jim McKinney: I don't think I could ever do it again. I guess it's something you get used to or you don't get used to, but you have a year to put in and you make the best of it.

Did you know ...

Canadian naval destroyers’ high-definition navigational radar makes them invaluable for operations in shallow water.

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