chapter  5
13 Pages

1914: ‘Better a wet arse . . .’

By 28 October, comparative peace reigned between Armentières and La Bassée. With the Germans now occupying a front line to their liking and the British, temporarily at least, stalemated, both sides set about consolidating what they had. The first step was to render defensive works (some captured) as near impregnable and habitable as possible. All available hands were put to work – mostly at night – on erecting strong barbed-wire barriers, establishing protected footholds for riflemen, erecting machine-gun nests and digging communication trenches and pathways. Last came the laying out of the countless dugouts for troops resting or engaged in waterpumping activities.106