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Gold: Over the Top!

"Over the Top." A famous phrase of the trenches. It is generally the order for the men to charge the German lines. Nearly always it is accompanied by the Jonah wish, "With the best o' luck and give them hell." – Tommy’s Dictionary of the Trenches

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Neil Kuefler, 2012


1. Entry SubmissionInterpretation Canada Awards of Excellence 2014

Entrant name: Tom Long

Title of entry: OVER THE TOP! Battle Drills

Organization: Fort Edmonton Park

Category: Personalized interpretation

Contains: Project Descriptions, Photos, and Program Planning Form

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Barry Deford, 2009

2. Project Description:

 The hands-on programme, which consists of a Great War veteran and Nursing Sister leading children through a trench raid battle drill, has been delivered by various interpreters weekly for the last several years.

Over the Top! was researched, written, and developed by FEP Interpreter Barry Deford, with input from Maddy Mant. The project was overseen by Supervisor Tom Long in 2009, and has run every year including 2014 with various pairs of interpreters.

Participants experience the complexity and tragedy of war through an interactive and enjoyable game. Though the visitors have fun, the truth of war’s cost are felt through the game’s ‘casualty’ rate and concluding statements.

Please see attached video for an example run of the program in question from 2009 (video to be posted soon), and program outline for a more complete description of the activity.

3. Goals and Objectives:

Thematic Breakdown: Visitors will learn the methods of attack in the trenches in the context of the Great War. They will find relevance in the modern costs of armed conflict.

Skill: Participants will learn the methods of attack in the trenches.

Context: The First World War and the battle methods used.

Relevance: Participants will find relevance in the cost and experience of total war to soldiers, who still fight difficult wars.

Visitor Outcomes: Through participation in a game reflecting the action of a trench raid, with rifles, mortars, machine-guns, and stretcher bearers, participants will learn the discipline and tactics of solders while feeling the visceral fear and loss of their ancestors’ struggles.

Hands-on: Visitors will take part in a battle drill and stretcher-bearing

Mindful: Visitors will consider the discipline and tactics required by conscript soldiers during the Great War.

Heartfelt: Visitors will relate to their ancestors’ struggles during the war.

The program serves as a launching point for post-program discussion, stimulating further conversation about the effect of war on returned soldiers, past and present. The end result for conversants is that 1920 Street takes on a new light as an era filled with people shaped by their wartime experiences.

4. Intended Audience:

This program is primarily intended for older children, adolescents, and teens, aged 8-18 who are fluent in English.

In terms of John Falk’s visitor motivations, the program will appeal primarily to the Experience Seeker and Explorers because of its distinct approach, but with significant appeal to Facilitators and Professional/Hobbyists.

In terms of the 8 learning styles, this program will appeal primarily to Visual/Spacial, Kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal learning styles, since the activity and spectacle of the program will inspire reflection and allows for teamwork.

5. Theme:

Through participation in a game reflecting the action of a trench raid, with rifles, mortars, machine-guns, and stretcher bearers, participants will learn the discipline and tactics of solders while feeling the visceral fear and loss of their forebears’ struggles.

6. Fulfilling the Mandate:

Fort Edmonton Park’s mission is to connect Generations to Edmonton dynamic history through fun, unique, immersive experiences.

The program fulfills this mission by structuring itself as a modified game of ‘red light/green light.’ With the addition of a uniformed WWI soldier showing you how to hold your ‘gun’ and barking orders at you, the experience becomes fun, unique and immersive. Through skilful interpretation, each step of the game is connected to the experience of an Edmontonian soldier during a battle.

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Neil Kuefler and Danielle Weisz, 2012

7. Background Information

In 2004 Fort Edmonton Park applied for a Communities Initiative Program grant to expand its public interpretation program in the direction of the First World War and its aftermath. FEP’s living history exhibit consists of four time periods, of which the latest, “1920 Street”, was and still is relatively undeveloped. Because that era is so inextricably linked wih the Great War, a returning solder project seemed a natural next step.

As happens in all organizations, things came up, and by 2007 the money was unspent. Tom Long and Bohdan Tarasenko were hired as program development researchers. Tom put together the resources to have an interpreter portray a Returned Soldier on 1920 Street while Bohdan developed Educational programs. In 2008 Adele Schnatschneider obtained appropriate uniforms for both the Returned Soldier and the added role of the Nursing Sister.

Barry Deford and Maddy Mant were the two interpreters chosen to wear the uniforms in 2009. They performed previously written programming for visitors and schools and also developed their own activities and performances, including Over the Top!

Several other interpreters have fulfilled each role in the intervening years, adapting and developing new programs and putting their own spins on the story of the returned veterans of the Great War. Over the Top! continues to be a fixture of our programming schedule.

What began in the ‘Year of the Veteran’ has continued until today, the centennial of the beginning of the First World War. Fort Edmonton Park remains committed to ensuring that the tangible and intangible heritage of that experience for Edmontonians is a centrepiece of our 1920s narrative.

Budget and Costs to account for include:

2 months of research time (Winter, 2008): $6200.00

1x Returned Soldier’s costume: $375.00

1x Nursing Sister’s costume: ~$200.00

1 hour of interpreters’ time x2 interpreters (for each performance) = ~$32

8. Demonstrating Excellence and Best Practices

A. Tilden’s Principles:

1.      Any interpretation that does not somehow relate what is being displayed or being described to something within the personality or experience of the visitor will be sterile.

a.     Over the Top! ties any verbal interpretation to the evocative tangibles of the soldier and nurse’s uniform, as well as the personal experience of stress of the trench raiding participants.

2.     Information, as such, is not interpretation. Interpretation is revelation based upon information. But they are entirely different things. However, all interpretation includes information.

a.     The program seeks to reveal the emotional core behind the military experience – fear, stress, and camaraderie.

3.     Interpretation is an art which combines many arts whether the materials presented are scientific, historical or architectural. Any art is in some degree teachable.

a.     The program seeks to engage multiple learning styles by using the verbal instructions of the soldier and nurse, the kinaesthetic experience of the raid, and the interpersonal relationship of the participants.

4.     The chief aim of interpretation is not instruction, but provocation.

a.     The program seeks to provoke empathy with both historical and modern soldiers, stretcher-bearers, and medical personnel.

5.     Interpretation should aim to present a whole rather than a part and must address itself to the whole man rather than any phase.

a.     The program uses the introduction and conclusion to provide a greater context of the First World War.

6.     Interpretation addressed to children should not be a dilution of the presentation to adults, but should follow a fundamentally different approach. To be at its best it will require a separate program.

a.     The program uses a familiar game format (Red Light/Green Light or freeze tag) to engage children with a more complex theme. The aspect of competition appeals greatly, as no one wants to be ‘shot’ before reaching the opposite trench, but there is also an aspect of camaraderie that appeals.

B. National Association for Interpretation (NAI) POETRY guidelines:

Purposeful: Over the Top! aligns with the mission and accomplishes clear objectives.

Organized: The program has a clear introduction, middle, and conclusion.

Enjoyable: The program engages multiple learning styles in a friendly manner.

Thematic: The program provokes thought and does not let the message get lost.

Relevant: The program includes reference to modern Canadian military experience and the public’s relationship therewith.

You: The program is adaptable for each interpreter’s style.

10. Contributors

Barry Deford, Costumed Historical Interpreter – Primary author

Maddy Mant, Costumed Historical Interpreter – Assistant author

Tom Long, Interpretation Supervisor – Editor and Contributor

11. Contact info

Tom Long

Public Interpretation Coordinator

(Supervised program development)


Fort Edmonton Park

Box 2359, Edmonton, Ab

T5J 2R7

[Entry Submission Ends]


More Photos and Illustrations

Note these were included in the original Program Planning Form document, below, to assist incoming interpreters to understand the program. The formatting does not transfer to this webpage, so images are posted seperately here:


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John Nash, "Over the Top" (1918)

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Maddy Mant leads the program in 2009

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Simulated trench at the Edmonton Exhibition, 1916


2014 Stephan and Suzanna - Over the Top -400.JPG

Stephen Greenhalgh leads the program in 2014

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2014 Stephan and Suzanna - Over the Top 3-400.jpg

Suzanna, 2014


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Stephan Greenhalgh and Suzanna, 2014


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Will Rooney, 2013

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Name: Barry DeFord

Date: May 26, 2009                         


Program Location:  Quadrangle south of Sun Drugs[1] or the Hangar field

Program Type: Try Your Hand

Target Audience:  Youths

Time of Day: Variable

Duration: 10-20 minutes

Number of Interpreters Required: 2

  • RETURNED SOLDIER                                                              
  • NURSING SISTER (who may wear the Brodie helmet in this instance).                                                      


Experience the complexity and tragedy of war through fun games. Though the visitors will enjoy the games we play, the truth of what war costs will be able to come through to the visitor.



  • Stevens, G.R A City Goes To War Edmonton: The Edmonton Regiment Associations, 1964
    • This book was published by the Edmonton Regiment itself, so is not likely to be impartial. However, it is exhaustively detailed in every military matter affecting the 49thEdmonton regiment and the Edmontonians who fought in the war. Available from various libraries. 


  • Mathieson, William D. My Grandfather’s War: Canadians Remember The First World War 1914-1918. Toronto, Canada: Macmillan of Canada, 1981.
    • Though couched with solid and succinct history, this book is a wonderful source of primary history (material from the period in question). Packed full of real accounts by historical figures, both from archival sources and Mathieson’s own interviews with veterans, this book is invaluable. It is available in the 1920 Research Library.  


  • The Somme (Docudrama)
    • “Narrated by Tilda Swinton, The Somme is a docu-drama which follows a group of young men through the first day of battle - a day when a whistle blow sent British and French soldiers 'over the top' and towards an almost certain death. Through reconstruction and historical records, the fates of several genuine officers and nurses who fought or served at the Battle of the Somme are followed. This was a battle fought by civilians on unfamiliar territory.”


  • Loyal Edmonton Regiment Website (“Billy’s Own”)
    • A complete and comprehensive history of the 49th Regiment, its predecessors in the militia, and its successors (The Loyal Edmonton Regiment). A perfect military history of the 49th, but doesn’t talk much of Edmonton itself while the war was on.


  • Oxford Illustrated History of Modern War Ed. Charles Townshend (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
    • An excellent source of modern scholarship on various aspects of war from the late 19th to late 20th Century. An especially good discussion of Trench Warfare can be found within. Academic without being unreadable. It is available in the 1920 Research Library.  


  • Fort Edmonton Park “2009 Program Videos”
    • This video depicts the interpreters of 09 performing this program and can be an invaluable resource for staff. Available from the FEP Resource Library. 


  • The Returned Veteran’s Handbook, FEP Resource
    • This binder contains excerpts from a multitude of sources, including some of those listed above. It can be found in the 1920 Street library. 





1.    (Skill) The method of attack in the trenches. 

2.    (Context) The First World War

3.   (Relevance) The cost and experience of total war. 



1.     (Hands-On) Visitors will take part in battle drill (and stretcher-bearing).  

2.   (Mindful) Visitors will consider the discipline and tactics required by conscript soldiers during the Great War. 

3.   (Heartfelt) Visitors will relate to their ancestors’ struggles during the war. 


Materials Needed:

Soldier                                                                        Nurse

  • Metal whistle
  • Wooden Lee-Enfield rifles
  • One stilt as Lewis Gun (optional)
  • Beanbags (optional) as grenades.
  • White cloth to make bandage and slings
  • Generic (non-allergenic) candies as morphine


The supplies for the activity to follow (bandage cloth, beanbags/socks filled with rice and candies) should be retrieved and kept in an easy to locate area.


Having been attracted by a typical five minute/two minute/presently announcement, the young visitors (and their parents, if they want) will be brought to the ditch between to the Hotel Selkirk and Blatchford Hangar. Have them stand in the road-side of the ditch facing the billboards.


Introduce yourself and tell the children that they are going to take part in an infantry drill as prospective members of the Canadian militia. Let them know they are lucky to have a drill instructor that served in the Great War and can show them what it was like. You can hand out golf clubs from Tom Thumb as their rifles. 


First, there are a few things they must know. At this point go over drill:

  • Attention (stand stiff, feet shoulder width apart, and look straight forward. )
  • Stand To (Weapons at the ready)
  • Fix Bayonets (The order, after explanation is just “FIX!” The children can mime this action, drawing the bayonet from their right hip and putting it on their ‘gun’)

Show them how to march. DO NOT LET THEM RUN!!! A steady step would keep them just behind their artillery bombardment. Go too fast and they would be shelled by their own side. Go too slow and the Germans would pop back up and shoot at them. Ideally the bombardment would destroy barbed wire and keep the Germans in their shelters until the Canadians were almost on top of them. 

At this point the NURSING SISTER can appoint stretcher-bearers (if there are 10 participants we should have 1 or 2 stretcher-bearers. Between 10 and 15 participants, then 2-3). The stretcher bearers’ job is to retrieve any injured soldiers from the battlefield. They will need steely nerves as they will be going right into the battle. An injured ‘soldier’ will lie on the ground and put up their hand. Once the Stretcher-Bearer tags them, they can both run back to the dressing station.


The RETURNED VETERAN should explain that he will get into character presently, and VOLUNTEERS should not be surprised or offended if he yells at them, as he is trying to save their lives. In-character banter from the soldier can ensue, touching on the conditions of the battle, final warnings, time before attack and issuances of omnipresent assistance. 

The RETURNED VETERAN can also explain the objective: they will be attacking the opposite trench to try and take over ground and get “one step closer to Berlin”.


Now the attack can begin. At the blow of the whistle, the participants will carefully walk on to the boardwalk, back down on to the other side and approach the fence.

The fence will act as ‘barbed wire’ as it is meant to slow the participants down. After the barbed wire, the participants are to stand almost shoulder-to-shoulder WALKING toward the billboards signifying the German trench. The soldier should be vicious in his insistence that the VOLUNTEERS not “bunch”.

Sounds easy enough.

Like in a game of ‘Red Light, Green Light’, at any random moment the RETURNED VETERAN can rapidly clap his hands signifying a machine-gun fire. At that point the participants must drop to their stomachs. Any who fail to do so or are slowest become ‘injured’ and the NURSING SISTER will send out her stretcher-bearers to retrieve the ‘fallen’ participant and bring him/her back to the trench.


Machine-gun fire can apply to stretcher-bearers also, but they get 2 chances instead of just one.

The injured participants will be given bandages, arm slings, and braces that the NURSING SISTER can show the stretcher-bearers how to administer. Some participants (probably every 3rd one) will just get a candy. The candy represents morphine and his/her injuries are fatal and cannot be administered to (the interpreter can decide whether the child is old enough to comprehend this, but can also remark to the watching parents in a hinting manner).


After making it to the billboards, (and possibly miming a stabbing attack, if the children are old enough), the RETURNED VETERAN should call out a warning of a counter attack and lead the soldiers back to their own trench in a retreat. He may choose to do another machine-gun attack during this retreat. 

The remaining participants will regroup to the trench to meet with the ‘injured’ participants.


A de-brief will then take place, where soldiers and stretcher-bearers are congratulated and thanked, and each element is discussed.

·      The casualty rate. (Many soldiers were injured during the attack). 

·      The importance of an officer to tell you what to do. (“NonComs especially, were the backbone of any army). 

·      The stationary nature of war (Very little gains in territory were achieved)

·      Some injuries were never recognized, such as Shellshock or ‘PTSD’ (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

·      Whatever the visitors opinions are towards Canadian troops in combat operations, we all agree that we want them to come home as safe and whole as possible. 

Hopefully the painful realities of trench warfare will be revealed through safe role-playing.


In practice, Barry added a nice conclusion to this program which was getting the participants to line up once more and assigning them a battalion number. A final salute would end the program. 

Another suggestion for this program would be to assign real historical ‘identities’ to each volunteer at the beginning, and then at the end reveal if they survived the war or not. This could be done with cards.

To add another variable either an on looking parent or the RETURNED VETERAN will have beanbags that s/he will lob at the participants.  These beanbags represent grenades and mortars. If a beanbag lands on or very near a participant, s/he has been ‘injured’ also and must be retrieved by the stretcher-bearer and brought back to the trenches.

Clean-up and Tear-down Procedures:

Make sure all supplies are returned to their storage areas.

  • Golf clubs to the golf shack
  • Soldier gear to the change-room or greenhouse. 
  • Bandaging to the greenhouse. 


  1. It is essential to stress the fact that those who are ‘injured’ are NOT out of the game. Going back to the trench to get medical help is good and part of the game. Children do not want to feel as though they’ve ‘lost.’ 
  1. Special care should be taken to prevent injuries of participants by warning them of uneven ground and going over the field beforehand to locate any potential dangers. 
  1. Nursing Sisters would not generally be permitted so close to the ‘front.’ The interpreters can point out that this is a necessary fiction.
  1. The in-character explanation of this program is not well-defined. It may be possible to characterize the game as a Militia training operation or educational feature. 
  1. The RETURNED VETERAN should take care to warn his volunteers that he will be going ‘into character’ before he begins to shout at them. 
  1. This program was filmed in 2009 and interpreters should review this resource before trying the program. 




         Trench warfare can be found long before the Great War (in the American civil war, for instance), but, like many earlier developments, became defined by its proliferation and centrality to the Great War. After the first phase of the war on the Western Front ended with the Battle of the Marne in 1914, the two armies settled down into elaborate trench networks stretching from the Swiss mountains to the northern coast. This stalemate would last until nearly the end of the war and the beginning of the war’s third phase. 

         Trenches were a tactically sound defence when used properly, but were reportedly miserable to live in – having lice, rats and mud aplenty. Wet and unhygienic conditions led to illness, including ‘trench foot,’ a terrible affliction caused by constant immersion in cold water. When added to constant shell bombardment, sporadic supplies, actual battles, and the exhausting anticipation of battles, the life was grueling. 

Trenches were reasonable proof against artillery and conventional attack – especially with the use of machine guns, wire, and serrated trench patterns, and even proved somewhat effective against early tanks. The addition of barbed wire was a relatively new innovation, and especially effective until late in the war when instantaneous percussion fuses concentrated the explosive effects of shells more effectively against wire and helped reduce cratering.

         Trenches were built in labyrinthine complexity and scale. The front few trenches were often not or lightly guarded, as they were too vulnerable. The Germans particularly had tactics of abandoning their outer trenches and letting the Allies penetrate further and further in until they could be surrounded in an ‘elastic’ defence. Often narrow-gauge rail lines would be used, similar to those used in mineshafts, to transport soldiers, wounded, and supplies back and forth. Pillboxes (raised concrete guard posts) and other bunkers as part of the network allowed soldiers to survive artillery barrages. 

         A series of trenches were built by recruits at the Edmonton exhibition for display, but were likely not as wretched as the real thing. Our modern words trench coat, foxhole, and the expression ‘over the top’ come from trench warfare. [6]

FROM: Spartacus Educational Website

At the beginning of the 20th century most military commanders placed a great deal of emphasis on using the infantry for massed bayonet charges supported by the cavalry and mobile field artillery. Leaders of the French Army were particularly keen on this approach and favoured sending its infantry into action without equipment for entrenchment. Their commanders argued that defensive precautions were unnecessary as repeated waves of massed assault, delivered with sufficient speed and aggression, could not fail. 

Infantry tactics had to be reassessed after armies suffered heavy casualties during attacks against machine-guns. The French infantry were forced to retreat during the invasion of Lorraine and the Germans experienced heavy losses when storming the fortress at Liege during August 1914. 

Despite the support of Preliminary Bombardment, Chlorine Gas and Flame-Throwers, the infantry failed to achieve a breakthrough on the Western Front during 1915. The following year, new tactics such as Creeping Barrage and tank attacks, also failed to breakdown entrenched defences. The same was also true of the infiltration tactics tried by the Germans in 1917.

It was only at Amiens in 1918, when Colonel John Fuller managed to persuade General Henry Rawlinson to use 412 tanks followed by soldiers and supported by over 1,000 combat aircraft that the Allies managed to breakthrough the German frontline on the Western Front.

FROM: "OVER THE TOP"By An American Soldier Who Went By Arthur Guy Empey, originally published 1917. 


In this so-called dictionary I have tried to list most of the pet terms and slangy definitions, which Tommy Atkins[7] uses a thousand times a day as he is serving in France. I have gathered them as I lived with him in the trenches and rest billets, and later in the hospitals in England where I met men from all parts of the line.

The definitions are not official, of course. Tommy is not a sentimental sort of animal so some of his definitions are not exactly complimentary, but he is not cynical and does not mean to offend anyone higher up. It is just a sort of "ragging" or "kidding," as the American would say, that helps him pass the time away.


Alarm. A signal given in the trenches that the enemy is about to attack, frequently false. It is mainly used to break up Tommy's dreams of home.

"All around traverse." A machine gun so placed that its fire can be turned in any direction.

Barbed Wire. A lot of prickly wire entwined around stakes driven in front of the trenches. This obstruction is supposed to prevent the Germans from taking lodgings in your dugouts. It also affords the enemy artillery rare sport trying to blow it up.

Bayonet. A sort of knife-like contrivance which fits on the end of your rifle. The Government issues it to stab Germans with. Tommy uses it to toast bread.

"Big Push." "The Battle of the Somme." He often calls it "The First of July," the date on which it started.

Burm. A narrow ledge cut along the walls of a trench to prevent earth from caving in. "Burm" to Tommy is a cuss word, because he has to "go over the top" at night to construct it.

C.C.S. Casualty Clearing Station. A place where the doctors draw lots to see if Tommy is badly wounded enough to be sent to Blighty.

Communication Trench. A zigzag ditch leading from the rear to the front-line trench, through which reinforcements, reliefs, ammunition, and rations are brought up. Its real use is to teach Tommy how to swear and how to wade through mud up to his knees.

"Consolidate captured line." Digging in or preparing a captured position for defence against a counter-attack.

Convalescence. Six weeks' rest allotted to a wounded Tommy. During this time the Government is planning where they will send Tommy to be wounded a second time.

Counter Attack. A disagreeable habit of the enemy which makes Tommy realize that after capturing a position the hardest work is to hold it.

"Digging in." Digging trenches and dugouts in a captured position.

Digging Party. A detail of men told off to dig trenches, graves, or dugouts. Tommy is not particular as to what he has to dig; it's the actual digging he objects to.

"Drill order." Rifle, belt, bayonet, and respirator.

Elephant Dugout. A large, safe, and roomy dugout, braced by heavy steel ribs or girders.

Emplacement. A position made of earth or sandbags from which a machine gun is fired. It is supposed to be invisible to the enemy. They generally blow it up in the course of a couple of days, just by luck, of course.

Entrenching Tool. A spade-like tool for digging hasty entrenchments. It takes about a week to dig a decent hole with it, so "hasty" must have another meaning.

Field Dressing. Bandages issued to soldiers for first aid when wounded. They use them for handkerchiefs and to clean their rifles.

Firing Step. A ledge in the front trench which enables Tommy to fire "over the top." In rainy weather you have to be an acrobat to even stand on it on account of the slippery mud.

Fire Trench. The front-line trench. Another name is for Hell.

Front Line. The nearest trench to the enemy. No place for a conscientious objector.

"Going in." Taking over trenches.

"Going out." Relieved from the trenches.

"Gone West." Killed; died.

M.G.C. Machine Gun Corps. A collection of machine gunners who think they are the deciding factor of the war, and that artillery is unnecessary.

M.G. Machine Gunner. A man who, like an American policeman, is never there when he is badly wanted.

Observation Post. A position in the front line where an artillery officer observes the fire of our guns. He keeps on observing until a German shell observes him. After this there is generally a new officer and a new observation post.

R.A.M.C. Royal Army Medical Corps. Tommy says it means "Rob All My Comrades."

Sap. A small ditch, or trench, dug from the front line and leading out into "No Man's Land" in the direction of the German trenches.

Scaling ladder. Small wooden ladders used by Tommy for climbing out of the front trench when he goes "over the top." When Tommy sees these ladders being brought into the trench, he sits down and writes his will in his little pay-book.

Shovel. A tool closely related to the pick family. In France the "shovel" is mightier than the sword.

Stretcher. A contrivance on which dead and wounded are carried. The only time Tommy gets a free ride in the trenches is while on a stretcher. As a rule he does not appreciate this means of transportation.

"Taking over." Going into a trench. Tommy "takes over," is "taken out" and sometimes is "put under."

"The Best o' Luck." The Jonah phrase of the trenches. Every time Tommy goes over the top or on a trench raid his mates wish him the best o' luck. It means that if you are lucky enough to come back, you generally have an arm or leg missing.

Trench. A ditch full of water, rats, and soldiers. During his visit to France, Tommy uses these ditches as residences. Now and again he sticks his head "over the top" to take a look at the surrounding scenery. If he is lucky he lives to tell his mates what he saw.

Trench Feet. A disease of the feet contracted in the trenches from exposure to extreme cold and wet. Tommy's greatest ambition is to contract this disease because it means "Blighty" for him.

Trench Fever. A malady contracted in the trenches; the symptoms are high temperature, bodily pains, and homesickness. Mostly homesickness. A bad case lands Tommy in "Blighty," a slight case lands him back in the trenches, where he tries to get it worse than ever.

"Trenchitis." A combination of "fedupness" and homesickness, experienced by Tommy in the trenches, especially when he receives a letter from a friend in Blighty who is making a fortune working in a munition plant.

Trench Raid. Several men detailed to go over the top at night and shake hands with the Germans, and, if possible, persuade some of them to be prisoners. At times the raiders would themselves get raided because Fritz refused to shake and adopted nasty methods.

Wave. A line of troops which goes "over the top" in a charge. The waves are numbered according to their turn in going over, viz., "First Wave," "Second Wave," etc. Tommy would sooner go over with the "Tenth Wave."

FROM: The Path of Duty: The Wartime Letters of Alwyn Bramley-Moore 1914-1916 Edited by Ken Tingley, 1998. 

“Our work is more interesting now, and we go rushing about field and over hedges, one company attacking another one, and we also go out at nights. …I didn’t think a soldier had so much to learn. We have to lie down flat and then get up, run forward twenty yards and lie down again in four seconds. With a rifle and a bundle on one’s back it takes some doing. When we have all our equipment on you would think we were horses with harness on. We have ever so many straps; all together it makes a good bulgy load.” –April 3, 1915.


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Frank Schoonover, 1918



Was the program attended by the target audience?               Yes                        No

If no, why not? How will this problem be remedied?


Was the program well-received by the audience?                   Yes                        No


If no, why not? How will this problem be remedied?


Did the interpretive message reach the target audience?       Yes                        No


If no, why not? How will this problem be remedied?             


Visitor feedback:


What alterations should be made to the program to improve the visitor’s response?




* This program has been video recorded for training purposes as of 2009. See FEP Resource Library. 


            Earlier in the day, the RETURNED VETERAN will ask to borrow a garden trowel from the gardeners.

He will then proceed to create a small scale version of a trench system, complete with

  • Fire Trench
  • SAP (Listening) Trench
  • 1-3 Reserve Trenches

He will then place army men in the trench system and lay wire down around the SAP and Fire Trenches.

It would be beneficial to add machine gun nests, duckboards, pillboxes etc., but that all comes down to the interpreter’s discretion and level of previous research. 

Books on the visual history of the First World War will help with the intricacies of the mini trench system.

This part of the program is understandably hard to do and should not be considered a priority. Perhaps a day may come when the tin soldiers are obtained. 

Pt 1: (Optional)[8]

Visitors and their children (youths mostly) will be invited to come and see the model trench system and the RETURNED VETERAN will be there to present the model and answer any questions about it. He can go over all of the routines of trench life and how different trenches are meant to do different things.

The NURSING SISTER can show where the medical hospital would be and how men would be brought back off the front if they were injured. She can also go over some of the realities of the injuries encountered in the trenches.

This can be used to draw a crowd and at that point the RETURNED VETERAN or NURSING SISTER can announce a first hand demonstration of a trench charge.



[1] Previously, the field beside the Hotel was used. In 2010, with the theatre construction underway, two new locations were tried, including the Hangar field, using the picnic tables as barbed wire bunches, and the Quad. Both were successful, although the staff preferred the Quad. 

[2] Careful not to let the Nursing Sister’s presence imply that girls can only be stretcher-bearers. 

[3] Soldiers who ‘bunched’ were better targets for machine gun spray and falling shells were more effective against bunched soldiers. That being said, the natural tendency of soldiers under fire is to, well, bunch.

[4] NCOs or Non-Commissioned Officers: Corporals & Sergeants

[5] That being said, this war is often criticized somewhat unfairly for massive casualties for little gain. While a common soldier didn’t realize the significance, often these attacks would make the Germans reinforce one section of the line, relieving pressure on another Allied section which was in danger of being overrun. 

[6] Oxford Illustrated History of Modern War Ed. Charles Townshend (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

[7] ‘Tommy Atkins’ was slang for an ordinary British soldier. Similarly, an American was a ‘Joe Soap.’

[8] As of the Summer Season, 2010, no model has yet been built, but it would be a great boon to this program.