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Loading a big trench mortar in a front line Boche trench | by National Library of Scotland
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Loading a big trench mortar in a front line Boche trench

Men crowd around a trench mortar positioned in a trench. One man appears to be loading a missile into the mortar. The surrounding area is covered with snow. Despite these conditions none of the men are wearing extra clothing. Trench mortars were widely used by both sides during the War. Developed for use in the trenches, they enabled a missile to be fired at a high trajectory towards enemy lines.

 

The derogatory term for a German, 'Boche or 'Bosch, originates from the French slang 'alboche, which was two words 'Allemand (German) and 'caboche (pate, head) put together. The French village of Gommecourt was the scene of much fighting, particularly during the Somme Offensive of 1916. Despite attempts by the British to capture it, Gommecourt remained in German hands between 1914 and 1917.

 

[Original reads: 'OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN ON THE FRONT IN FRANCE. Loading a big trench mortar in a front line Boche trench.']

 

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Taken circa 1918