Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Sport of the Trenches: Rat Catching

I imagine readers have probably wondered if the soldiers of the Great War had much time to exercise and indulge their sporting and non-lethal competitive instincts when serving in the trenches. Well, below is proof they did. In lieu of the cancelled 1916 Olympic Games (scheduled for Berlin, by the way) the boys spent their spare time tracking down their trench mates, Mr. Rat and his gazillion cousins, and sending as many as possible to the great Rat Hotel in the sky. I don't know what impresses me more about the photos below: the dedication, enthusiasm, and pride of the German and French rat-catching teams with their catches shown below, or simply the frightening number of the vermin. Rats were clearly in endless supply on the Western Front.


  1. Wow, that is an impressive collection of rats from both sides of the front!

  2. As James Cagney said in one of his movies: "Take that you dirty rat". Pow! Bang! Bop!

  3. I am reminded of Private Baldrick's dish - rat au van. Start with a rat run over by a van.