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Why did the trenches smell?

Updated: 8/19/2023
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14y ago

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In nearly any military conflict in which trenches are utilized in or near combat-zones, a smell typically arises because of several factors. The soil itself provides a distinctive smell, as do the body-odors of soldiers who are not able to wash themselves regularly. The presence of corpses as well as the occasional (or even frequent) need to use trenches as latrines are two additional causes of bad-smelling trenches.

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9y ago
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13y ago

A) They were made of mud.

B) The men washed about once a month.

C) There were dead people all over the place and they stank.

D) Rats and lice made the mouldy bodies even worse.

Just a few answers :)

Eleanor x

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11y ago

The smell was horrible. Neither you nor your fellow soldiers had any way of bathing. Since you were living in a mud hole changing clothes was pointless, even if you had clean clothes to put on. Many soldiers had lice, which liked hairy places and the seams of clothing and were hard to kill. Sometimes they were called "cooties". There was no place to go to the bathroom. Some units were more insistent on field sanitation, meaning you took an entrenching tool (folding shovel) and made a little hole and went in that, then covered it up. These weren't always very deep so you could easily step in some. The mud was tremendous. All armies laid "duckboards" to make paths but if you got off the path you could sink in so bad you could get stuck. Sometimes army mules would sink in and disappear completely. The noise of artillery and machine gun fire went on around the clock, every day. The trenches were infested with big rats, which feasted on the corpses.

Two smells often mentioned were "cordite", a type of explosive used in artillery shells, which you would smell when the enemy was shelling your position, and the stench of decomposing bodies, of men killed in places where their bodies could not be safely recovered. Farm animals could also be killed and lie around decomposing.

It is hard to imagine a more hellish place to try to stay alive.

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14y ago

Because of all the dead people. You stupid fool.

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11y ago

Because of the rotting bodies in the no man zone and because they had to dig holes within the trenches and that was their washroom.

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14y ago

It really smells in the trenched with dead bodies all around you, trench food, rats, overflowed toilets, sweat and cigarette smoke and gas.

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Q: Why did the trenches smell?
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