majority of the war, the Germans had the arguably easier defensive role.
As a result they spent a lot of time and effort in constructing their
trench system. Just how well constructed they were started to become
clear to the Allies from 1916 onwards as they started to capture some
of the German trenches. Although the actual trenches differed little
from their own, the Allies found dug-outs up to 20 feet underground,
often reinforced in concrete to prevent collapse and able to accommodate
many men in relative comfort. These shelters often had facilities such
as cookers, a generator to provide electricity and anti-gas curtains.
The German trenches were also very well protected by barbed wire. This
was staked in front of the trenches to slow down any advancing attack
made by the infantry and proved very effective.
used by the Germans was the system of defence in depth. Realising that
although trenches were hard to attack, they were not impregnable, the
Germans started to develop the concept of strength in depth. This meant
building another trench system one or two miles behind the front line
which could be brought into use if necessary. This proved extremely
effective and was one of the reasons why a stalemate developed.
not until the Allies started to develop more effective artillery techniques,
such as the concept of the 'creeping bombardment' and counter-battery,
and started to tie in the work of all the different branches of the
armed forces more successfully that any progress was made.