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WW1 Trenches Simulation

1. As students enter class, give them a notecard with one of the countries that fought in WW1. Students
will be assessed by having to choose the proper side of the trenches to go to. Allies or Central Powers.
Students will need a piece of looseleaf and a pencil.

2. Once all students are assigned to a side, tell students to think back to everything theyve learned thus far
about World War I and to imagine that they are soldiers currently on the battlefields in a trench. Turn off
the lights, turn on loud war sounds (if available) and project images of WWI trenches for students to
examine (examples attached.) Instruct students to lay down and crouch behind the desks and to imagine
they are currently in one of those trenches.

Over 40 million casualties resulted from World War I, many occurring in the trenches, where you currently
are. As a World War I soldier in the trenches, your daily life can be quite rough. During battle, you risk losing
your life, which can be stressful and terrifying. Yet, life can also be incredibly boring and even depressing
during the periods when you sit waiting for battles to ensue. Regardless, at all times, you have to worry about
rats, catching diseases, shellfire, and body lice. Food is sometimes in short supply also. When soldiers are
injured, it can take a while until they are treated. And, if you have an open wound, lying in the unsanitary, dirty
and infested trenches can result in a serious infection. Some injuries are so bad that soldiers limbs have to be
amputated. Also, if you disobey your commanders orders, you run the risk of being executed. You must be
ready to attack at all times. If you are hit with an enemy bullet you are to lay still.

3. Write a Diary entry as a soldier who just arrived to the trenches. What are your days like? Describe the
conditions in the trenches?

As students are writing, give them the order to fire. Play machine gun sounds.

4. After battle ends talk to students about the new WW1 technologies like machine guns and tanks.

Both sides in World War I used new technology to attack more soldiers from greater distances than ever before.
For example, the machine gun had been refined to fire 600 rounds per minute. Airplanes were loaded with
bombs and dropped over the trenches and had dogfights with other airplanes. WW1 also saw the first use of the
tank which was used to mow down barbed wires and soldiers.

Students should write a diary entry about their first battle. What was the style of fighting like? What were your
emotions during it? How much ground was gained in the first battle?

5. As students are writing, there will be a gas attack. Students have 10 seconds to grab and get a mask on.

WW1 also saw the first widespread use of poison gas from both sides. A yellow-green chlorine fog sickened,
suffocated, burned, and blinded its victims. Gas masks became standard issue for all soldiers. After the war, gas
attacks became illegal to use in warfare.
After the gas attack students will read letters from soldiers during WW1.

6. Christmas Eve, 1914 - Show Christmas commercial

One of the wars most famous moments came on Christmas Eve in 1914. Across the Western Front, soldiers quit
fighting and met in no-mans land. This came to be known as the Christmas Truce.

Write a diary entry about the Christmas Truce

7. As students are writing, have one more battle take place.

The use of trench warfare in WW1 was a different style of fighting than previous wars. In previous wars, the 2
armies lined up and fired across at one another. There were large formations of troops and both sides tried to
flank each other. When both sides decided to dig into trenches, however, gaining ground became nearly
impossible. The call would be made to go over the top and soldiers would dash across no mans land to
attack the enemy. Thousands of soldiers would die to gain only a few yards of ground on the enemy. For
example at the Battle of the Somme the British who were attacking suffered 57,000 casualties in only one day.
That is 40 casualties every minute.

8. After the battle say that rains began and the trench has become flooded. Imagine you are standing in water
that is knee deep for weeks. You have also been fighting the war for over a year. Describe in your diary what
your emotions and feelings for the war are.

As in many other wars, World War Is greatest killer was disease. Sanitary conditions in the trenches were
quite poor, and common infections included dysentery and cholera (both involve severe diarrhea and stomach
ache; Many soldiers suffered from parasites (worms that live inside and feed of your body, making you
severely ill) and related infections. Poor hygiene also led to fungal conditions, such as trench mouth and trench
foot. Another common killer was exposure, since the temperature within a trench in the winter could easily fall
below zero degrees Celsius (32 F). Burial of the dead was usually a luxury that neither side could easily afford.
The bodies would lie in no mans land until the front line moved, by which time the bodies were often
unidentifiable.

9. After American troops enter the war in 1917, the Allies went on the offensive eventually beginning to drive
the Germans back. On the 11th Hour of the 11th day of the 11th Month in 1918 the Germans officially
surrendered. All was quiet on the Western Front. Write in your diary your feelings of the war finally being over.

10. After cleaning up the room, read In Flanders Fields, Dulce et Decorum est, and Suicide in the Trenches.
WW1 Diary
Name:______________________________________________________________

Country: ____________________________________________________________

Diary Entry #1
Write a Diary entry as a soldier who just arrived to the trenches. What are your days like? Describe the
conditions in the trenches?

Diary Entry #2
What was the style of fighting like? What were your emotions during it? How much ground was gained in the
first battle?
After the gas attack students will read letters from soldiers during WW1
Diary Entry #3
Write a diary entry about the Christmas Truce. Was it a fun day? What were your thoughts when you were
meeting your enemy?

Diary Entry #4
Describe in your diary what your emotions and feelings for the war are. You have been fighting for years and
now are living in a trench that is waterlogged. You are beginning to suffer from trenchfoot. What are your
thoughts on the war?

Diary Entry #5
Write in your diary your feelings of the war finally being over.
In Flanders Fields
John McRae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow


Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago


We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!


To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

SUICIDE IN THE TRENCHES


By Siegfried Sassoon
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.