If you’re thinking this is a reference to hair salons or a convention for the National Suffragettes of America then you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.
Dating back to 1320, the term was once used for the land used as a dumping ground for refuse between fiefdoms. It was later used for an execution spot just outside of London, and the forecastle of a ship to where blocks, rope, and tackle were stored. All worthy uses of the term, but it became most common during WWI as the land between two enemy trenches. Tread this sod and you were a dead duck for the snipers just waiting to pick you off. The strip of land was often several yards apart and sometimes only 10 yards apart. Nothing like staring into the eyes of your enemy over breakfast.
Lined with artillery, barbed wire, eager arms ready to lob grenades, mortars, land mines, and riflemen, it was a place no living creature wanted to cross. Only under cover of darkness men would sneak out to repair the barbed wire, spy from shell holes, and drag back their fallen brother in arms. In more congenial trenches, a ceasefire would be called for stretcher bearers to slog through the mud and blood to carry out the wounded and dead. Sadly, many of the bodies were left to rot or freeze until spring when the ground thawed sufficiently for burial. The stench was horrendous.
Today visitors can walk these quiet fields in remembrance. Green grass and newly grown shade trees disguise the earth that was not so long ago ripped apart. Shallow dips are the only evidence of the winding trenches that bisected the dirt, shielding and housing thousands of men for four long years. If you’re lucky enough to see this history for your own eyes, be careful where you step. Rusted barbed wire and shell fragments still poke out, refusing to be ignored by the years gone by.