Life in the trenches during World War One would have been extremely tough. Long periods of boredom were mixed with brief moments of terror. The threat of death kept soldiers on edge, while poor living conditions and a lack of sleep wore away their health and stamina.
One element of trench life that was particularly grim, according to British soldiers, was the food. Fresh fruit, vegetables and meat were hard to come by so Tommy’s had to make do with tinned rations and hard biscuits.
In this video, Dan Snow experiences some of the food options that would have been on the menu for a soldier in the trenches of the ‘Great War’.
First, he tries trench stew or maconochie which was made with beef or gristle and sliced vegetables like turnips and carrots.
Next, he tastes some hardtack biscuits. These were very common during World War One because they didn’t go off and provided a substantial meal for soldiers, who badly needed the calories.
Dan washes his biscuits down with a mug of tea and a bite of chocolate. These familiar treats were used to boost soldiers morale and provide much-needed comfort to those on the front line.
Finally, Dan rolls a cigarette. Tobacco was a staple of army life and cigarettes were even used as currency within the British army. Dan also reveals that drugs were common in the trenches, with soldiers relying on substances to keep them going.