This film is part of Free

Shower Baths in the Trenches

A humble scrub is all it takes to get these French troops in a lather.

Non-Fiction 1916 1 mins Silent


In their quest to keep public spirits up, newsreels looked to illustrate the lighter side of war. The comic quality of this report stems from the French soldiers' supreme ease with the camera as they get their wash-down - how Gallic! But there's also a poignancy to the men's delight at this simple pleasure - while the patchy film quality suggests haste, and the gloomy closeness of the front line.

Taking a shower on the front line would have been quite an ask. But it seems you could at least take a shower to the front line. Trench hygiene was dismal, but as this film looks to show, the efforts of the Sanitary Corps meant improvements in both conditions and troop morale. The Frenchmen jostle and play up for the crew - although, given that the images would have been shot at the height of winter, the tomfoolery probably also helped keep them warm.