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EDITIONS
Breakfast Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 06:30 GMT
Trench warfare
Most thought the war would be over by Christmas
A new series about life in the trenches begins this Friday on BBC2 at 9pm.

It's linked to an exhibition on the same subject, which starts today at the Imperial War Museum.

On Breakfast, we spoke to Dick Colthurst, producer of "The Trench".(Click the video icon on the top right to watch the interview).

Twenty-four volunteers were recruited to play the part of soldiers for two weeks in front of the cameras.
Many of those who played the volunteers found it emotional
They had 10 days of training before they were sent back in time.

They wore the same uniforms, and replicated the same routine that a WW1 soldier had to go through.

This meant spending time in the trenches and in "billets".

Billets were buildings that were taken over by the army during war. These could be cow sheds, or family homes.

We' talked to one of the volunteers. John Robinson knew very little about trench life when he signed up to take part in the series.

Boredom was experienced: a reality of trench life
He said the lack of sleep was probably the worst bit.

He also found it staggering that real volunteers had to endure the same hardship for more than four years.(Watch our interviews by clicking the video icon on the top right of this page.)

A war without parallel

World War I was a war without parallel - all previous wars were eclipsed by its scale of destruction.

It was a struggle between Europe's great powers, which were grouped into two hostile alliances.

Trench warfare remains the lasting image of WW1
The number of men mobilised totalled over 65 million.

When the fighting was finally over, no-one could tell exactly how many had been killed but historians estimate that up to 10 million men lost their lives on the battlefield - and another 20 million were wounded.

World War I is also regarded as the first "total war" in which the combatants mobilised all their resources, military, industrial and human, on a scale never before thought possible.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
A 'volunteer' and the series producer
The Trench
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10 Nov 98 | World War I
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