The landscape of Flanders around the city of Ypres was covered with the remains of trenches when the war ended in 1918 but as the civilian population returned and reclaimed their land, gradually they disappeared. Original trenches can only be seen in a few locations around Ypres now but for new generations coming to the battlefields it is often hard to equate muddy ditches or shallow holes with what was once here. At the Memorial Museum Passchendaele in the village of Zonnebeke a whole system of British and German trenches have been constructed to give a modern audience an insight into what the trenches looked like. Using experimental archaeology the museum has recreated different types of trenches and built using various styles and methods.
This mid-war British trench seems unusual at first in that it is straight and not zig-zagged; trenches were built like this largely to minimise the effect of shell-fire and also make them easier to defend. But there were straight trenches and they appear in contemporary images of the conflict. Along the floor a raised duckboard, or walkway, sits on top of an inverted A-frame to try and lift the occupants of the trench out of the water and the sides are lined with timber and ‘elephant iron‘ – corrugated iron sheeting, used to shore-up trenches and also often for roofing.