A WA R R E L I A N T ON WO OD
The First WorldWar was heavily reliant on timber. Every soldier needed
five trees’worth of timber to support his military duties.
The trench burrows and mazes of the front line used wood to strengthen
walls, roofs and doorways. Miles of wooden duckboards kept feet out of
pools of fetid water, reducing the risk of trench foot and pneumonia.
Wooden stakes supported signposts and the
tangles of barbed wire of the combat zones. As
the retreating Germans destroyed bridges, wood
was needed to construct new ones and to infill shell
holes on roads.
S CA F F OL DI NG ,
A MMU N I T I ON BOX E S
C OF F I N S
At home too, wood was vital. Wooden
pit props were used in coal mines and
wooden railway sleepers were needed to
transport materials and weapons to the
front. The rapidly-developing aircraft
industry depended upon particular trees:
Sitka spruce for the
– the main
supporting structures; birch for the
manufacture of plywood, an essential
building material, and ash for elements
where toughness was a priority.Scaffolding,
ammunition boxes and coffins – wood was
the basic building block ofWWI.
2 materials of war