Find out more about everyday life

Find out more about life in combat

Find out more about the army

Find out more about recreation

Find out more about First World War Weaponry

Find out more about the enemy



Montage of images showing diagram of barbed wire, trench map, aerial photograph and soldier atop a tank.

What was it like to fight in the First World War? It is one of the big controversies currently surrounding the Great War. Some people believe that life for the average soldier was unrelentingly awful, forced to fight on the orders of incompetent generals in terrible conditions only to see their comrades fall in futile attempts to win hopeless battles. Others take a different view. They argue that life was not all bad, that there were high points as well as low points and that, in the end, the war was won by the Allies. Some historians, such as Dan Todman, argue that people’s perceptions of the war have changed over time and that that in itself is interesting and worthy of consideration. So what was it like? Perhaps we’ll never have a definitive answer. The experience of war was different for every participant – determined by their experience, their motivation and their character. We’re going to try to find out a little bit more about what it was really like to fight in the First World War by looking at what life was like when in combat and what everyday life was like.

Go the section on Everyday Life Go to the section on Life in Combat