Published date: 2 August 2012

This clip shows trainee Tommies digging trenches, probably in England in 1915. The clip closes with instruction on rifles and a machine gun.


The film shows troops training before being sent to the western front in 1915. They are all volunteers, persuaded to join up by Lord Kitchener’s famous recruiting campaigns from the early stages of the war. The clip shows the huge numbers of people needed to dig the trenches. It gives a clue into the manpower needed to keep the trenches in good condition. Although the trenches have a bad reputation in British history, they saved huge numbers of lives.

Interesting or important points about the film

Trenches are often seen as a byword for the stupidity and incompetence of the leadership in WW1. However, imagine the number of deaths if they had not dug trenches. This training film almost certainly shows volunteers responding to Kitchener’s call to arms in 1914. Already the importance of digging good trenches is being built into their training.

Please note that this video is silent.

Author: The National Archives

Duration: 1:02

Release date: 1915

Producer: British Pathe

Source: ITN Source / British Pathe

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