Soldiers lived in the trenches when fighting during World War I, it was muddy, noisy and
pretty basic. They didn’t have toilets so it was probably a bit stinky too.
The latrines was the name given to trench toilets. They were usually pits, 4 ft. to 5 ft.
deep, dug at the end of a short sap. Each company had two sanitary personnel whose job it
was to keep the latrines in good condition. In many units, officers gave out sanitary duty
as a punishment for breaking army regulations. Before a change-over in the trenches, the
out-going unit was supposed to fill in its latrines and dig a new one for the new
The best latrines came in the form of buckets which were emptied and disinfected regularly
by designated orderlies. Some latrines were very basic pit or ‘cut and cover’ systems.
There were strict rules prohibiting ‘indiscriminate urinating’, but at times soldiers did
resort to urinating in a tin and throwing it out of the trench.