Practice Trenches

Practice trenches were constructed to allow troops to train in trench warfare at every level from platoon tactics to Brigade scale manoeuvres and also to some extent to allow troops to train in the actual construction of trenches.  One Brigade War Diary describes the lessons learnt from entrenching training in Kent during 1915:

  • The whole layout of the line to be dug, including shelters, sump holes and communication trenches should be laid out in advance so excavated earth could be despotised in suitable locations and not have to be moved a second time.  

  • Men should be trained in the use of all tools

  • Before excavation has advanced to any extent all wires and stumps for the support of pickets to hold the revetment should be fixed and laid firmly across the surface of the earth so that they have a proper and straight strain when finally attached to the pickets.

  • No excavated earth should be deposited onto traverses until the revetment is complete.

  • When the trench line is laid out, levels should be given for the depth of the trenches to allow correct falls for drainage.

  • Sump holes should be one of the first things to be excavated so they could be completed by the time the trench is finished in case of a heavy fall of rain.

  • All upright surfaces should be reveted as soon as possible as work proceeds, and great care should be taken to see that walls are true and pickets lie with a good bearing for the whole of their length.

  • Revetment material should be the same size and diameter as far as was possible.


Practice trenches in Suffolk are known to have existed at Ipswich, Stowlangtoft and Beccles.  The trenches at Stowlangtoft were used by second-line battalions based at Bury St Edmunds. One War Diary notes troops marching from Bury to Stowlangtoft  and remaining in the trenches for 24 hours, one party defending and one attacking.























 Above: Practice trenches, Purdis Heath (Ipswich) including mock shell holes

























Above: Practice trenches, Beccles, on a much smaller scale than above




British troops training in attack

WW1 Training Trenches Sketch P1010975 beccles trenches beccles trenches aerial Home DSCF7625