Encyclopedia - Fire-Step

Paris trenches, Aug 1914 The fire-step was built into each trench, cut into its wall some two or three feet from the trench floor.

The purpose of the fire-step, which ran along the entire trench, was to enable each occupant of the trench to peer over the side of the trench through the parapet into No Man's Land in the direction of the enemy trench line.

During the pre-dawn and dusk procedure of Stand-To each occupant of the trench would be expected to man the fire-step with rifle loaded and bayonet fixed.  It was generally held that enemy attacks were often mounted under cover of darkness either just before dawn or immediately after dusk, thus each side ensured an appropriate state of preparedness.

The floor of the trench was lower than the fire-step in order that men could pass along the trench without exposing their heads to enemy fire.

An Armlet was a cloth band worn around the arm to identify a particular duty or function.

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