Obverse design : field fortifications, German, three-tiered stylised perspective view of. In the upper portions of the design men are hammering in pickets and laying a deep crisscross wire entanglement. Below, a trench parapet is being banked with sand bags and logs. The wicker hurdle trench revetting may be seen as two carrying parties, burdened with building materials, pass along the trench.
Exergue : "ARGONNEN 1915".
The Argonne Forest in north eastern France was bisected by the trench line of the Western Front and was the scene of
continuous and vicious fighting between 1914 and 1918. In this 1915 piece (one of a series of three medals commemorating German military activity and describing conditions in the Argonne, see MED 359 and MED 942) Karl Ott offers a detailed picture of German trench construction and maintenance and provides valuable insights into the sheer physical slog involved in such work. The detail is remarkable and the image includes references to the German custom of using wattle hurdle revetments (trench wall supports) and the employment of complex criss-cross patterns for the barbed wire entanglements. The design is rendered by means of a deliberately naive and stylised imagery, in order to convey more readily the prosaic reality and institutionalised routines of trench warfare.