A foxhole, slang for “fighting position”, is a type of defensive strategic positioning formed by digging a pit or trench. In basic training, every soldier learns the technique and strategy for building and maintaining their own foxhole. Using an entrenching tool, a small collapsible shovel, soldiers are paired off by height and ordered to dig a hole large enough to fit both members comfortably at chest height. Once completed, each member will continue to improve their fighting position by adding foliage from the surrounding area to provide camouflage. It is said that a foxhole is never “done” and that it must be continually improved and maintained.
Once the foxhole has been dug and camouflaged, each soldier is responsible for keeping their “buddy” alive. This is achieved by maintaining a set of firing sectors. The soldier on the left covers everything from left to middle while the soldier on the right covers everything from right to middle. If each soldier continues to maintain their position and attention to their sector, the other will remain protected. The key to the success of this strategy is that each soldier must trust that their buddy will protect their vulnerable side. A soldier that lacks trust in their buddy will expose both soldiers to a greater risk of being shot.
When several foxholes are setup to maintain a perimeter for a particular asset, the combined effect is the protection of that asset. If you place a series of these position then a perimeter of soldiers working in small 2-person teams can secure any sized area. The mission is achieved when all team members honour their commitment and work as a team.
Individual Prone Shelter or Slit Trench
Prone shelter illustration from the Ordinance Soldier's Guide
(Text Below is also from the Ordinance Soldier's Guide)
Whenever our troops halt anywhere near the Jap or Nazi troops, they begin at once to give themselves and their weapons individual protection. If it’s a short halt, they use the natural protection of the ground — bumps, ditches, shell holes, depressions of any kind. But if it’s a longer halt (but less than six hours, in an assembly area before an attack), then each man digs himself an individual prone shelter. This takes only a few minutes. Such a shelter gives a soldier two advantages - a chance to rest and reasonable protection from bomb, mortar, and shell fragments and small-arms fire. But this kind of a foxhole won’t protect you against a tank attack.
If an outfit is to halt for more than five or six hours, it goes to work at once on standing-type one-man foxholes. These will protect you against all bombs and shells (except direct hits), bomb and shell fragments, and small—arm fire. And if you dig your foxhole deep enough to leave a clearance of two feet or more between you and the ground surface, when you’re crouched down in the bottom, you’ll have protection against the average Nazi or Jap tank. When you start to dig this foxhole, you put the sod to one side. The rest of the dirt you pile irregularly around the edges of the hole. And then, when you’re through digging, you use the sod to cover the rest of the dirt.
A two person slit trench that has been covered in the centre by a large board or possibly a door that has then been covered with spoil to camouflage it.
The soldiers webbing sets are both at the same end, grenades are kept handy, just in case.
A large hole that looks like it has been dug into a bank with a good solid tree for support. Although digging that in amongst the routes would have been a fair challenge.
The interesting thing here is the huge amount of greatcoats that are piled up around these two soldiers, one of which is wearing a greatcoat! They certainly wouldn't have been cold.
A 'T' shaped slit trench with a .30 cal placed on the top.
Above - As well as biggest problem when digging when into the ground, is that water will naturally gather. The second being that this ground is really cold and the need for some form of insulation between you and the ground is really beneficial. This soldier has placed layers of cardboard boxes on the ground.
Left - A less temporary foxhole requires more shelter, this soldier has constructive a cover using half of a pup tent. I dread to think of the condition inside that hole, seeing as there is a lake forming right in front of him!
A long slit trench that has a cover in the centre that looks to be nothing more than a pup tent half. This looks to be a position that has been occupied for some time, note the cut down trees back right of the photo that have been used for something.
Ration cans are to be seen in various locations, as well as an M1A1 Bazooka! An interesting photo with lots of the day to day objects that are weirdly seldom seen in photos.
A .50 cal position being started. The gun is set up first, with the ammo boxes ready to hand in the photo.
This must be during training, firstly the soldier is wearing a tie! None of his combat equipment is anywhere to be seen, not even a jacket or coat. The only things that seem to be around are the items he will use for this position, including a shelter half. He also isn't using a normal E-tool, but a large bulldog shovel that would normal be found in a jeep.