And the huge minnies were throwing old limbs out of No Man's Land into the frontline trench, and shells were rasping down through the air that seemed to resist them until it was torn to pieces:

This is from a novel about Great War. Does "old limbs" means human body?

Thank you for your advice.

Mood Indigo

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    Close. A limb can be an arm or leg of a person. So this is what this passage is referring to. They are 'old' because they have been in No Man's Land for some time (hours, days, or more); they aren't the limbs of just-killed or just-injured men. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


Not exactly. It means "body parts" (legs, hands, etc.).

There are dead bodies in the no man's land, and the shells fired by "huge minnies" are causing explosions. These explosions tear body parts from the corpses and throw them into the frontline trench.

Alan Carmack is right: the limbs are "old" because these corpses have been lying in the no man's land for awhile. Nobody dares venturing out and collecting bodies under fire.

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    Sometimes in the trenches of "the Great War", limbs and skulls would be embedded in the side of a trench making it a macabre scene. Sometimes soldiers would shake the hands of dead limbs that stuck out from the dirt of the trench into the trench pathway. Often the trenches were ankle deep in water. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 15:53

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