What did men do on the front line in World War One?

Many men who went to war were able to use the skills learned from their jobs at home.

Men who worked with horses were useful recruits as the Army had thousands of horses.

Men who knew how to drive could transport supplies in buses and lorries. Or even drive a tank!

Coal miners became 'sappers', experts at tunnels and trenches.

The rifle was the soldier's main weapon. Men who knew about rifles were highly valued.

An illustration of army, navy and air force men in World War One
Watch our video to find out more about how men’s jobs back home could prepare them for life at war.

What did men do in the Army?

Most soldiers in the Army were in the infantry. They were foot soldiers, trained to march and carry all their equipment.

A soldier had to be dressed at all times with his rifle ready.

British soldiers of the Royal Field Artillery in France in World War One

Infantry soldiers lived in trenches for up to weeks at a time

When an attack was ordered, lines of infantry soldiers climbed out of the trenches and marched towards the enemy. This was called 'going over the top'.

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What did men do in the Navy?

In 1914 Britain had the biggest and strongest navy in the world.

The Royal Navy had hundreds of ships and more than 200,000 sailors.

A photograph of World War One battleship HMS Centurion at sea

The Navy protected the British Isles and its colonies

It also blockaded the ports of enemy countries to stop supplies getting in. World War One saw only one really big sea battle, the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

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What did men do in the Air Force?

Using aircraft in war was a new idea. Pilots first belonged to the Army's Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Naval Air Service.

These joined forces in 1918 to become the Royal Air Force.

British pilots handing in reports after flying over enemy lines in World War One

Pilots handed in reports after flying over enemy lines

Their thick coats, gloves and helmets kept them warm when sitting in open cockpits in their planes.

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How did life change for men?

Despite the many volunteers who joined the armed forces, there was still a shortage by 1916.

A law was passed forcing men to join up, called conscription.

By 1918 all men under 51 were being called up.

Lots of men did not want to go to war, but they had to go. Many had never left their home town or village before. Soon they were in the thick of battles.

Top fading image of Scottish soldiers taking a break on the Western Front in World War One

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World War One