No Man's Land

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    No Man's Land is the term used by soldiers to describe the ground between the two opposing trenches. Its width along the Western Front could vary a great deal. The average distance in most sectors was about 250 yards (230 metres). However, at Guillemont it was only 50 yards (46 metres) whereas at Cambrai it was over 500 yards (460 metres). The narrowest gap was at Zonnebeke where British and German soldiers were only about seven yards apart.

    No Man's Land contained a considerable amount of barbed wire. In the areas most likely to be attacked, there were ten belts of barbed wire just before the front-line trenches. In some places the wire was more than a 100 feet (30 metres) deep.

    If the area had seen a lot of action No Man's Land would be full of broken and abandoned military equipment. After an attack No Man's Land would also contain a large number of bodies. Advances across No Man's Land was always very difficult. Not only did the soldiers have to avoid being shot or blown-up, they also had to cope with barbed-wire and water-filled, shell-holes.

    Soldiers were only occasionally involved in a full-scale attack across No Man's Land. However, men were sometimes ordered into No Man's Land to obtain information about the enemy. When a artillery shell had landed just in front of an enemy trench, soldiers were often ordered to take control of the shell-hole and to try and spy on the enemy.

    Small patrols were also sent out to obtain information about the enemy. These patrols would go out at night. They would have to crawl forward on their stomachs in an attempt to get close enough to find out what the enemy was up to. If possible, they would try and capture a sentry and bring him back for interrogation. To stop British night patrols the Germans used a light-shell rocket. Suspended from a small parachute, the flare blazed brightly for a minute giving the defending troops a chance to kill the soldiers who had advanced into No Man's Land.
  2. 8055BELL

    8055BELL New Member


    I've been provided with records of bomber training where the distances were recorded for grenade throwing. The best was 44 Yds, which may explain the distance between lines at Guillemont. Zonnebeke sounds dangerous!

  3. Hello all, newby here.

    I know it's an old post but having just returned from a trip to Ieper and visiting a couple of the war graves it gave me the impetus to look again at where my grandmothers brother might be commemorated. He died, as I understand it following such an excursion out into no-mans land when he was only 20. I believe he had been mentioned in dispatches for similar activities during his short career as a soldier. He was a Lance Corporal with the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, his father too had been a Colour Sargeant with the Rifle Brigade prior to the first world war. Tragically "Freddie" as my nan knew her brother, died while getting back into his own trench when, I understand in the dark he fell onto the bayonet of one of his colleagues. If anyone has any information on the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade I would be very interested in hearing. My nan's brother was Frederick Moore, service number 4271 and he died on the 25th August 1916. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

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