Senegalese Rifleman (see in Wikipedia)
Sen Ben Biram (Bambara)
Inky-black shining skin, dazzling white teeth grinning through his purplish lips. They grinned like this with frightful and gory glee, on the days of an attack, whilst he followed the first wave, his knife in his hand, in his task as sweeper of the trenches. The Germans, crouched in their shelter, losing their minds, their bodies paralysed by the thunder of the artillery, must have trembled in the depths of their being when death appeared to them at the entrance to their tunnel with this dark grimacing face. A magnificent, necessary and pitiless brute: real men were needed for this hard task to prevent forgotten enemies behind our lines stopping our soldiers advance. But rarely has war had such cruel necessities, and rarely has her face donned such a tragic mask.
Notes on “Trench Sweepers”. Taken from www.americanrifleman.org/Webcontent/pdf/2009-6/200964124832-pistolsingreatwar.pdf
All armies used “trench sweepers” in order to clear captured enemy trenches. The French and Belgian called them Nettoyeurs de Tranchées
or “trench cleaners.” The French also called them Zigouilleurs, a term in Argot, a common French dialect, denoting “killers.” These daring men were usually volunteers. The work was extremely hazardous and odds of survival were slim. Most volunteers in these units were not afraid of hand-to-hand combat. They were resourceful and knew the front intimately, including the surrounding land and the maze of trenches.
Their task was not limited to clearing the trenches after a successful advance: It also included raids to gather intelligence or capture an enemy soldier. Although the fighting was perilous, these French and Belgian volunteers enjoyed perks that few others had. They were most often exempt from fatigue chores or duties such as filling sand bags, repairing and draining trenches and installing or repairing barbed wire in no-man’s land.
The French and Belgian trench sweepers often operated independently. Their orders were given, but the planning and execution of their tasks were left almost entirely up to them. Although they may have had an assigned leader, he was most often a non-commissioned officer.
Those that volunteered often felt more in control of their own destiny. While facing the enemy, they relied upon themselves and their own skills for survival. Trench sweepers did not participate in frontal assaults and usually did not face the enemy’s machine guns on open ground like the common foot soldiers.
Another perk for the volunteer trench sweepers was the freedom to select and use their own arms. Long guns had proven early on to be cumbersome and ineffective. Instead, a trench sweeper carried a bag with three or more grenades, a trench knife and a pistol.