"When you finally got down to where the troops lived [in the dugouts] you were in utter darkness. You may or may not have a candle. You slept on some type of frame that had a chicken wire for a spring and there were no mattresses, and you had your blanket. Now, that was the abode of rats also, and the greatest concern was crawling in with rats, because when you got down there, even if you did have a candle, it cast a very dim glow. You would take your blanket and ruffle it up, you see, and you didn't know if some rat had crawled in there or not. I mean these were great big field rats, you know. They were animals. They weren't house mice. And the air down there didn't have ventilating systems on account of the gas danger. I have never experienced such foul air as when I slept in dugouts when I was with the French. Of course the bodies of the men hadn't been bathed. They didn't disrobe. They just lay down in their regular clothes. It was the foulest smelling air. Well, those were the dugouts."
-Sergeant Merwin H. Silverthorn, 5th Marines, 2nd Division
US 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, Major T. C. Holcomb commanding, resting after Belleau Wood
Photo courtesy of the Photos of the Great War Web site.
Used with permission.