What Was Life Like for Soldiers in World War I?

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Life for soldiers in World War I followed a specific routine that involved waking up at around 5 a.m., performing military drills when not engaged in direct combat, eating breakfast, having an early dinner, sleeping briefly, performing more military exercises and then doing physical labor before retiring for the evening. Soldiers in World War I spent most of the time in trenches on the front line. They rarely moved from the trenches except to move from one battle ground to the next, and shared close living and sleeping quarters with other men.

Despite the chaotic nature of war, the lives of soldiers followed relatively predictable schedules. Soldiers rose before dawn each morning, around 5 a.m. They performed standing drills called “Stand-to-Arms,” then received a daily ration of rum around 5:30 a.m. Soldiers continued performing standing drills until approximately 7 a.m., when they received breakfast. Breakfast for soldiers typically consisted of bacon and tea.

At 8 a.m., soldiers took time for cleanliness by bathing, cleaning weapons and tidying surrounding areas. Soldiers ate dinner at noon, then took turns sleeping, keeping guard and engaging in leisure activities. At 5 p.m., soldiers took tea, then performed standing drills until around 6:30 p.m. Then, soldiers worked through the night making repairs to equipment and materials or alternating between sleeping and patrolling.