Away from the battleground, life outside the trenches could be almost as hard on the soldier as it was when occupying them – and as Peter Hart and Gary Bain show, it really was a case of all work and little play for Tommy

Carry parties were essential to maintaining frontline positions, but the unpopular duty often fell on troops at ‘rest’. These men bring up boxes of grenades to the trenches near Bernafay Wood during the Battle of the Somme

Time out of the line may have seemed like heaven on earth to soldiers when in the trenches, but as we learned in part eight of this series, the realities of R&R often fell short of expectations – and could even be a hazard. Thanks to regular rotation, soldiers would find that while the majority of their time was spent away from the lines, that did not mean there was no work to be done. Most swiftly found that normal military duties and discipline continued. That should not have been surprising to anyone enlisted, but this was war, and for the largest part of it Britain relied on a citizen army without the years of pre-war service experienced by the ‘Old Contemptibles’ of the 1914 British Expeditionary Force.

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