centurion, on 23 April 2012 - 11:22 PM, said:
There are illustrations of British officers dug outs on quiet parts of the front with a bedroom, sitting room and dining room (and a piano). One should not generalise.
Most of us on the forum have come to realise that, as you say, it is dangerous to generalise. This was a big war with millions of soldiers and hundreds of miles of trench spread over more than 3 years. There was room for many strange things and exceptions to almost every rule. That said, I have wondered whether some of the pictures were not put up jobs and staged for a laugh. These were, in many cases, groups of undergraduates stuck in a hole in the ground and undergoing endless hours of boredom, cut off from the usual amenities. Student rags and traditional events like the Boat Race were noteworthy for the inventiveness of the stunts they got up to apart from the obligatory knocking off of bobbies' helmets. In a quiet sector, with not much doing, I do not think laying on a special show for a visiting photographer would be beyond the realms of possibility. The different approaches to trench building would also have an affect. The Germans with the use of conscript and slave labour, building a defense line to withstand the worst the Entente could throw at them while the Entente and particularly the British, seeing trenches as a jumping off line and being careful not to make them too comfortable. As I said to Mike, we would need to be careful to distinguish between the front line proper and a divisional or corps level HQ which might not have moved for quite some time and where there was labour to enlarge a dugout and make it at least endurable. I still think that most high level commanders would have jibbed at a piano as a permanent fixture in a front line trench.