The No Man’s Land between the trenches of the clashing forces during World War I was a place you wouldn’t want to find yourself in. That is if you still love your life. Safe to say that it was the hottest part of the hellish battlefields of France at that time where death awaited from machine guns, flamethrowers, poison gas, and artillery rounds. And just as the soldiers thought they already had more than enough to worry about, they would find out that even the seemingly innocent, harmless, and war-beaten trees could also kill them.

The trees had eyes, and ears

OP Trees

In war, it was crucial to know your enemy’s moves and activity in order to gain a significant advantage over them. It was no surprise that the brilliant minds of the designers of World War I kept on finding ways how to make use and take advantage of the wreckage that separated their trenches from the enemies’. Germany, France, and Britain all tried to find ways to observe the enemy lines during World War I, but it was the French who came up with the brilliant idea in 1915 of using dead and hollowed-out trees as observation posts and then, later on, shared the idea with the British.

Honestly, why not? Who would suspect that a withering tree was actually alive and keeping an eye on your every movement? Not like in the creepy Evil Dead film with a demonic tree way but like in an enemy-observing-your-activities-way. You decide which is scarier.

Constructing the Tree

The process of creating and installing the tree was more complicated than it sounds. With both sides keeping an eye on each other closely, one couldn’t just stick a new “dead tree” because that would be obvious, and the operation would immediately be busted. It was, in fact, a tedious and time-consuming process.

It all started with the engineers surveying the No Man’s Land to find the shell-damaged tree in a suitable location. The tree had to be of the correct size and shape in the sense that a soldier could fit in once it was changed to the fake, OP tree ones. Once they found the perfect tree, they would measure, photograph, and sketch the tree in accurate detail, from its size to its bark.

These details would be sent to a workshop that would manufacture an exact replica of the tree based on the provided reference.

The artists and engineers would then tediously create an identical copy of the tree built around an armored tube. The bark would be made from wrinkled and folded iron, imitating its texture of it, and then painted to look as real as it could be. Twigs would then be added as necessary, as well as other features based on the original tree.