World War 1 Trench Raider
–Trench raiding was a feature of trench warfare which developed during World War I. It was the practice of making small scale night-time surprise attacks on enemy positions.
Typically, raids were carried out by small teams of men who would black up their faces with burnt cork before crossing the barbed wire and other debris of no man’s land to infiltrate enemy trench systems. The distance between friendly and enemy front lines varied, but was generally several hundred metres. Any attempt to raid a trench during daylight hours would have been pointless because it would have been quickly spotted: enemy machine gunners and snipers had a clear view of no man’s land and could easily shoot anyone who showed their head above the trench parapet.
Standard practice was to creep slowly up on the sentries guarding a small sector of an enemy front line trench (looking for the glow of cigarettes in the dark or listening for conversations) then kill them as quietly as possible. Having secured the trench the raiders would complete their mission objectives as quickly as possible, ideally within several minutes. Raiders were aware that the longer they stayed in the trench, the greater the likelihood of enemy reinforcements arriving. Grenades would be thrown into dugouts where enemy troops were sleeping before the raiders left the enemy lines to return to their own.